This chapter discusses in detail the negotiations in the Council from 1976, when the Birds Directive was formally proposed, to 1979, when the Directive was formally adopted. The chapter reveals and assesses the positions adopted by individual Member States on central issues such as whether the EEC had legal competence to propose and adopt a directive on bird conservation at all; the rules applying to the selection and protection of Special Protection Areas for birds; and the species to be protected.

The early implementation of the Birds Directive is then discussed, revealing the key roles played by certain individuals in this phase of the history. The importance of, and the link between, the lists of Important Bird Areas and the network of Special Protection Areas under the Birds Directive is discussed.

Finally, the negotiation of the Environmental Impact Assessment (1985) is briefly discussed, in the context of its representing an influential stepping stone between the Birds Directive (1979) and the Habitats Directive (1992).