This chapter covers the detailed negotiations regarding the Habitats Directive proposal during the Greek and Spanish presidencies of the EEC, from July 1988 to June 1989. Key figures within the European Commission for the purpose of the Habitats Directive negotiations are identified.

The chapter first discusses developments during the Greek presidency from July to December 1988, when the central focus within the Council was on the issue of principle: should there be a Habitats Directive at all? The UK and Denmark are identified as two countries particularly opposed to the idea, albeit for very different reasons. The role of NGOs in this period is discussed, as are political developments in the European Parliament and at national level within Europe. A tour of key capitals by Claus Stuffmann and Stanley Johnson is discussed, as is a concerted attempt by certain countries to undermine the need for a Habitats Directive by seeking to refine the habitat protection provisions of the Bern Convention.

Next the chapter discusses developments during the Spanish presidency from January to June 1989. The development of “green shoots” in this period is discussed, including the appointment of a flamboyant new Environment Commissioner Carlo Ripa di Meana. The beginning of substantive negotiations regarding the text of the Directive and its annexes in this period is discussed, including a detailed focus on the rules relating to the designation and protection of Natura 2000 sites. An influential discussion paper produced by the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds in March 1989 is identified as a turning point in the development of the draft Habitats Directive.