The Habitats Directive requires Member States to ensure strict protection of that species in order to enable effective avoidance of deterioration or destruction of breeding sites and resting places. The Commission has brought an action before the Court of Justice because it is of the opinion that, by failing to institute a programme of measures ensuring strict protection of the European Hamster, France has failed to fulfil all its obligations under the Habitats Directive1, the objective of which is to promote maintenance of biodiversity. The Commission complains that, in 2008, France failed to take adequate measures to ensure strict protection of the European Hamster in Alsace (France), the only region where it is present, which is threatened with complete extinction in the short term by harmful agricultural practices and development of urbanisation, which disturb the breeding sites and resting places. The Court points out that the Habitats Directive requires Member States to adopt measures to institute a system of strict protection of animal species ‘of Community interest, including the European Hamster. Such a system must therefore enable the effective avoidance of deterioration or destruction of breeding sites or resting places of the animal species covered by the Directive. It is apparent from the file that, between 2001 and 2007, the number of burrows of the European Hamster (one burrow representing one animal) in the ‘main areas fell from 1 160 to less than 180, whereas the minimum viable population threshold is 1 500 individuals spread over an area of contiguous suitable land of 600 hectares. The Court finds that the measures implemented by France, in 2008, were not adequate to enable effective avoidance of deterioration or destruction of the breeding sites and resting places of the European Hamster. However, the Court rejects the Commissions complaint regarding the alleged inadequacy of the action programme for 2008 to 2010 concerning the limitation of pollution caused by nitrates, on the ground that the Commission has not demonstrated to the requisite legal standard that there is a link between the use of nitrates in agriculture and the deterioration or destruction of the breeding sites or resting places of the European Hamster.