Bijdrage plenaire verga­dering over de bouw van een muur op de grens tussen Polen en Belarus in het oerbos van Biało­wieża

5 mei 2022

Anja Hazekamp (PvdD): Madam President, the Białowieża forest is an incredibly precious natural site. Protected by the Natura 2000 and World Heritage regimes, it is one of the last old-growth forests in Europe. It is home to thousands of different species. The Białowieża forest is an irreplaceable area for biodiversity conservation, due to its size, protection status and substantially undisturbed nature.

And precisely this forest is now under heavy attack as a 186 kilometres long and 5.5 metres tall wall is being built right through its heart. Steel, concrete and razor wire will block this key ecological corridor. The migration of wolves, lynx, bison and elk will become completely impossible, with dire consequences for their survival.

This wall is illegal: no impact assessment has been carried out, even though it is prescribed by the Habitats Directive. There are alternatives too, and the so—called mitigation measures proposed by the Polish authorities are utterly inadequate.

This wall is deeply unethical too. There is no justification for labelling this wall as a proportionate measure for border control while exhausted migrants are losing their lives because of it. We have a duty to protect the fundamental rights of all refugees, including those chased into the Białowieża forest.

Commissioner, do you agree that this wall is illegal and should be stopped? And what will you do to achieve that?

I am warning the Commission that claiming that it is a matter of national competence will not do! That is totally inadequate and disregards EU laws. As the guardian of the Treaties and the EU acquis, the Commission has a duty and obligation to act.

I would also like to know: what is the status of the infringement procedure that the Commission started in 2021 about the failure of Poland to stop the logging of this unique Białowieża forest? When are you going to take the next step? What are you waiting for?

I urge the Commission to do whatever it takes to halt the construction of this wall, and to remedy the negative consequences that it has already inflicted. The Białowieża forest needs to be protected: no walls, no logging, and no violation of fundamental human rights. It’s as simple as that.

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