The implementation of the Birds and Habitats directives has been problematic in many member states of the EU. In the Netherlands, many decision-making processes have ended in judicial intervention. This paper analyses the problematic implementation of both directives in the Netherlands. It shows that nature conservation legislation has gained importance in decision-making processes, but that this does not automatically mean that nature conservation goals have been achieved. Because of the emphasis that is placed on the procedural aspects of decision making, the costs involved have increased, while the substantial goals of the European Birds and Habitats directives are fading into the background.