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My Five Years As Environment Commissioner: Reflections from Janez Potocnik During His Last Week In Office

Guest blog for the RSPB by Janez Potocnik, European Commissioner for the Environment from 2009 to 2014

In my five years as European Commissioner for the Environment one of the key things I have learned is that Europe’s citizens care about their natural environment, passionately. That most certainly includes the UK. Indeed it has been striking that despite the apparent scepticism towards the EU there, UK citizens and NGOs regard the EU as a friend when it comes to environmental protection.

I have visited many nature reserves and met with many NGOs and volunteers in my time as Commissioner. Earlier this year while in the UK I had the good fortune to visit RSPB’s Northward Hill reserve and the North Kent Marshes, which overlooks the great expanse of the Thames. I saw Marsh harriers, Herons, little Egrets, and I met the Friends of North Kent Marshes. They, like so many people in the UK, are passionate about the wild places on their doorstep, and determined that they will be protected for future generations. For North Kent Marshes, and for many other international important wildlife sites across Europe, that protection is delivered by EU environmental law.

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