31st May 2023

Double rejection for EU flagship nature restoration plan

  • In the EU, more than 80 percent of habitats have a bad or poor conservation status (Photo: Wikipedia)
Listen to article

MEPs on the fisheries committee on Wednesday (24 May) voted to reject the EU's flagship nature restoration proposal, a day after a similar rejection from the European Parliament's agriculture committee.

Now all eyes are on the environment committee (the lead committee on the proposal) which is expected to vote on the file on 15 June. The final plenary vote is due to take place in July.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

The EU nature restoration regulation, proposed by the EU Commission in June 2022, sets legally-binding targets to restore 20 percent of EU land and sea by 2030 — in a bid to halt biodiversity loss and reverse the degradation of ecosystems.

But lead MEP Spanish socialist César Luena has pushed for higher ambition, raising the target from 20 to 30 percent of land and sea restored by the end of the decade, and aligning the EU's goals with the international target agreed upon by world nations at UN biodiversity talks in Montreal last year.

"The restoration of nature in the EU is the only way to guarantee the resilience of our ecosystems, on which our economy and food security depend," he said on Twitter.

While the proposal is considered by many as a game-changer, it has recently come under severe criticism from conservative lawmakers who argue that the new law would harm farmers and food production in the EU.

The parliament's largest political group, the European People's Party (EPP), which has been leading the opposition against the nature restoration law, has now called on the commission to withdraw the proposal.

"We support biodiversity, but this proposal is not fit for purpose and should be withdrawn following the decisive votes in two parliamentary committees," said centre-right Romanian MEP Siegfried Mureşan.

However, the fisheries and agriculture committees' rejections are simply non-binding opinions to be considered by the environment committee.

Meanwhile, the Greens have accused conservative and liberal MEPs who rejected the proposal of aligning themselves with the far-right.

"The EPP and Renew are playing party politics at the expense of nature and farmers…The unholy coalition of EPP, Renew and far right-wing populists and extremists cannot be allowed to further undermine the European Green Deal," said Green German MEP Jutta Paulus.

During a debate in the parliament on Wednesday, businesses such as VELUX, Nestlé and Euroelectric argued that the nature restoration law could make a difference for their sectors.

"We aim to have 20 percent of raw materials coming from regenerative agriculture by 2025. Today, we are at seven percent. A nature restoration law would help accelerate the transition," said Bart Vandewaetere, who works for Nestlé Europe.

For their part, environmental groups have slammed centre-right lawmakers for ignoring science with a disinformation campaign.

"The living world is dying around us and science is very clear," said Ariel Brunner, director of the NGO Birdlife Europe during a debate in the parliament.

In the EU, more than 80 percent of habitats are in a bad or poor conservation status, one-third of groundwater is under pressure, bee and fish populations are in decline and most of the soil is in an unhealthy condition.

The cost

The risk of increasing costs for farmers and citizens is one of the arguments used by the EPP to vote for the full rejection of the nature restoration proposal.

However, according to the commission impact assessment, every euro invested in nature restoration adds some €8 to €38 in benefits regarding climate-change mitigation.

Overall, the estimated cost per citizen to implement this law is about €14 per year, bringing about €112 per year in return.

Putting a price on nature? Not a good idea, experts say

In a moment that could have been an act of polite rebellion, physicist and ecologist Vandana Shiva walked off stage during a speech about the need to 'put a price on nature' in the European Parliament this week.

Over 80% of Europe's habitats in poor or bad condition

A report from the European Environment Agency reveals the EU failed to meet the targets of its 2020 biodiversity strategy, with the vast majority of protected landscapes and species show notable deteriorating trends.

ECB: eurozone home prices could see 'disorderly' fall

The European Central Bank in its Financial Stability Review warned EU home prices could see a 'disorderly' fall as high mortgage rates are making houses unaffordable for households and unattractive for investors.

Adapting to Southern Europe's 'new normal' — from droughts to floods

Extreme weather events in recent months have worsened agricultural production in southern Europe, prompting concerns for authorities in Portugal, Spain, France and Italy. As countries will likely face dryer conditions, experts urge adaptation measures for the 'new normal'.

PFAS 'forever chemicals' cost society €16 trillion a year

Researchers found that global societal costs of the so-called forever chemicals or PFAS amount to €16 trillion per year. Meanwhile, the bigger producers of these chemicals are also among the ones spending the most to lobby EU policies.

EU: national energy price-spike measures should end this year

"If energy prices increase again and support cannot be fully discontinued, targeted policies to support vulnerable households and companies — rather than wide and less effective support policies — will remain crucial," the commission said in its assessment.


EU export credits insure decades of fossil-fuel in Mozambique

European governments are phasing out fossil fuels at home, but continuing their financial support for fossil mega-projects abroad. This is despite the EU agreeing last year to decarbonise export credits — insurance on risky non-EU projects provided with public money.

Latest News

  1. Europe's TV union wooing Lavrov for splashy interview
  2. ECB: eurozone home prices could see 'disorderly' fall
  3. Adapting to Southern Europe's 'new normal' — from droughts to floods
  4. Want to stop forced migration from West Africa? Start by banning bottom trawling
  5. Germany unsure if Orbán fit to be 'EU president'
  6. EU Parliament chief given report on MEP abuse 30 weeks before sanction
  7. EU clashes over protection of workers exposed to asbestos
  8. EU to blacklist nine Russians over jailing of dissident

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Sustainable Finance CentreJoin CEE Sustainable Finance Summit, 15 – 19 May 2023, high-level event for finance & business
  2. ICLEISeven actionable measures to make food procurement in Europe more sustainable
  3. World BankWorld Bank Report Highlights Role of Human Development for a Successful Green Transition in Europe
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic summit to step up the fight against food loss and waste
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersThink-tank: Strengthen co-operation around tech giants’ influence in the Nordics
  6. EFBWWEFBWW calls for the EC to stop exploitation in subcontracting chains

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. InformaConnecting Expert Industry-Leaders, Top Suppliers, and Inquiring Buyers all in one space - visit Battery Show Europe.
  2. EFBWWEFBWW and FIEC do not agree to any exemptions to mandatory prior notifications in construction
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ways to prevent gender-based violence
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Economic gender equality now! Nordic ways to close the pension gap
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: Pushing back the push-back - Nordic solutions to online gender-based violence
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersCSW67: The Nordics are ready to push for gender equality

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us