PAF 2021-2027

Giovis Dimitrios

What is a Prioritised Action Framework?

The European Commission, in order to ensure the funding of the Natura 2000 Network, has established that the member states have to develop Prioritised Action Frameworks – PAFs (Directive 92/43/EEC). PAFs are strategic multi-year planning tools which aim at providing a comprehensive overview of the measures that are needed for the management and protection of the EU-wide Natura 2000 Network and the associated green infrastructure. PAFs define the funding needs and priorities of the Natura 2000 Network, and thus facilitate their inclusion in EU’s financial instruments through their connection with the corresponding structural funds, financial programs and tools of the European Commission.

The requirement for each member state to develop a PAF results from article 8, paragraph 1 of the Habitats Directive. The measures to be identified in a PAF are designed “to maintain and restore, at a favourable conservation status, natural habitats and species of EU importance, whilst taking account of economic, social and cultural requirements and regional and local characteristics“..

The European Commission had for the first time invited countries to develop their national or regional PAFs for the 2014-2020 funding period, proposing a specific format and content. At that time there were significant knowledge gaps in Greece regarding the status of species and habitat types of EU interest, including birds, and there was also a lack of management plans for nearly all Natura 2000 sites. The Greek PAF for the period 2014-2020 included 103 measures grouped in 7 general categories in terms of their implementationscope.

The European Court of Auditors and the Action Plan for nature, people and the economy concluded that the first-generation PAFs for 2014-2020 did not present a reliable picture of the real costs of the Natura 2000 Network in all member states of the Union.

For the new programming period, 2021-2027, the PAF form has been updated, with the most important changes being the requirement of budgeting each measure, the setting of quantitative target values per measure, as well as the regional-scale approach. In addition, the integration of measures has been foreseen both for Natura 2000 sites and for areas outside the network (i.e. green infrastructure that contributes to the ecological coherence of the network).

The Greek PAF for the period 2021-2027 was approved by the European Commission in December 2020.