BRUSSELS, Belgium (AP) _ The European Union plans to take seven EU governments to court for ignoring 1995 European legislation on creating habitats for endangered animals and plants.

The EU said Tuesday that France, Finland, Denmark, Germany, Luxembourg, Netherlands, and Ireland are almost three years late in submitting conservation sites to be part of Natura 2000, a natural habitats network spanning Western Europe. It cited Ireland and Luxembourg as the worst offenders.

Natura 2000 will feature a variety of habitats across the 15-nation EU, including lagoons, sand dune systems and woodlands where endangered animals _ such as otters and wolves _ and endangered plants like orchids would be conserved and protected.

The program was to be the EU's ``flagship contribution to safeguarding global biodiversity,'' the commission said.

The habitats network was to have been in place by June 1998.