NGOs: Slovenia’s large-scale bear cull is in breach of European law

Ljubljana (STA) – Slovenian NGOs say that the culling quota of 230 brown bears, set by experts from forest and nature conservation institutes and approved by the Natural Resources and Spatial Planning Ministry on Thursday, is in breach of Slovenian and European legislation. They have notified the European Commission and European Parliament in an open letter.

EU law does not allow culling permits for protected species like brown bears, but only allows for the culling of individual specimen, the animal welfare NGOs Lajka and AniMa and environment protection NGO Alpe Adria Green wrote in the open letter. The NGOs believe the EU Court of Justice should take action against Slovenia and “correctly interpret the law in relation to culling.”

The Association of Ecological Movements of Slovenia also demands strict compliance with the legislation on bears and wolves as protected species and a prevention of “any mass culling.”

The NGOs said a task force, funded by Slovenia and the European Commission, found that hunting is not a solution to decrease damage, and that a larger number of bears does not affect the number of damage events.

According to the NGOs, hunters use intensive feeding to accustom bears to readily available food so they are easier to hunt. The feeding attracts the bears closer to human settlements and is one of the reasons for the high growth rate of bears in Slovenia. Instead of culling, bear populations would be better regulated by reducing the number of feeding sites, the NGOs said.

This week, Slovenian Prime Minister Robert Golob said that the decision should be reviewed, calling on Minister for Environment and Spatial Planning Uroš Brežan – the minister in charge of the decision – to suspend it to allow the government to reconsider the issue. “The minister explained to the prime minister the reasons for the decision. The decree the ministry issued on 13 April remains in place,” the ministry’s press release said.

Last week, Brežan said that all other options to prevent conflicts had been examined, but neither relocation nor keeping bears in captivity were feasible due to the large numbers. (April 17 and 19)

Officials claim that Bosnia and Herzegovina is not currently in a migrant crisis

Sarajevo (FENA) – The Service for Foreigners’ Affairs recorded 1,543 illegal migrants in Bosnia and Herzegovina (BiH), and, in the first two months of the year, almost three times as many illegal migrants than for the same period last year.

Migration movements were also influenced by more favourable weather conditions. In addition, there was the possibility to access certain countries of the Western Balkans visa-free, from where migrants tried to illegally enter the territory of the European Union.

Among the top five countries of origin of migrants were Afghanistan, Morocco, Cuba, Turkey and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC), with Afghan nationals accounting for almost half of all illegal migrants (47 percent). An average number of 855 migrants stayed in four temporary reception centres, which have a total capacity 4,880 of places.

Minister of Security of BiH Nenad Nešić presented this information at the session of the House of Representatives of the Parliamentary Assembly of BiH and he stated that Bosnia and Herzegovina “currently does not have a migrant crisis and that security in the country has not been compromised.”

He also referred to the current issue of the construction of a temporary detention unit funded by the European Union and said that in the readmission process, not a single person who could threaten the security of BiH, citizens or property had been returned.

“The facility has not yet been put into operation. The Service for Foreigners’ Affairs did not take it over and no one lives in that building. Everything that is done, will be done in accordance with domestic legislation, regulations and legal norms,” said Minister Nešić. (April 19)

EU Commissioner Gabriel opened new BioSens building in Novi Sad with Prime Minister Brnabić

Novi Sad (Tanjug) – The European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture, Education and Youth, Marija Gabriel, visited Novi Sad, where together with the Prime Minister of Serbia, Ana Brnabić, she opened the new building of the BioSens Institute.

During the visit, the Commissioner, together with the Minister of Education Branko Ružić and the Director of UNICEF in Serbia, Dejana Kostadinova, visited the School for Primary and Secondary Education “Milan Petrović”. On that occasion, equipment for the integration of assistive learning technologies in the value of 20,000 euros was delivered, which will improve the inclusiveness of education in Serbia.

Commissioner Gabriel, accompanied by Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Culture Maja Gojković, visited the Matica Srpska Gallery in order to learn about the achievements of Novi Sad as the European Capital of Culture in 2022 and the heritage of Serbian art in a wider European context.

“You have definitely shown great things, as well as immense dedication. It was a successful year for all of you and we saw that you can show us a lot, both in terms of artists and the application of new technologies,” Gabriel said at the end of the visit to the Matica Srpska Gallery.

Emphasising the importance of participating in EU programs, Gabriel pointed out that it was important to focus on innovation and new technologies, to encourage artists to create new ideas and to develop the creative industry at the same time. (April 19)

Environmental organisations take legal action against green EU label for nuclear power and gas

Luxembourg (dpa) – Several environmental organisations are taking legal action against the EU’s classification of gas and nuclear power as climate-friendly. Greenpeace, Germany’s Bund für Umwelt und Naturschutz (BUND) and the World Wild Fund (WWF), along with other groups, have filed lawsuits at the European Court of Justice against the so-called taxonomy, the associations said on Tuesday.

The taxonomy is a kind of seal of approval for sustainable financial products used by the European Union to list areas in which investments can be made to mitigate climate change.

“The European Commission must not dress up the problem as a solution. Nuclear and gas cannot be sustainable,” said Greenpeace Germany Executive Director Nina Treu. Since the beginning of January, investments in gas or nuclear power plants have also been classified as climate-friendly. This has since caused debate and criticism, as burning gas emits climate-damaging CO2 and using nuclear power produces radioactive waste.

Austria and Luxembourg are also suing against the EU taxonomy. Other EU states were also critical of the plan. France, which sees nuclear power as a key technology for a CO2-free economy and would like to continue exporting the technology to other countries, played a decisive role. In return, Germany advocated a green label for gas as a transitional technology.

Now the EU court must decide whether the classification of nuclear power and gas as climate-friendly is justified. The oral hearing is awaited for next year. However, a ruling is not expected before 2025. (April 18)

This is a compilation of the European coverage of enr news agencies. It is published Tuesdays and Fridays. The content is an editorial selection based on news by the respective agency.