13th Apr 2024

EU nature restoration law approved after massive backlash

  • The watering-down was needed to get enough support from member states and an increasingly unfriendly parliament (Photo: James Baltz/Unsplash)
Listen to article

The EU Parliament approved the long-debated Nature Restoration Law on Tuesday (27 February) — despite last-minute lobbying efforts from the agricultural sector.

Hailed with loud applause by the 329 MEPs that approved the text, the final compromise approved is much weaker than the original EU Commission proposal first tabled in 2022.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Get the EU news that really matters

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

... or subscribe as a group

This watering down was needed to get enough support from member states and an increasingly unfriendly parliament.

After already failing to scupper the file twice last year the European People's Party (EPP) led by Germany's Manfred Weber sent out a communiqué on Monday advising its members to vote down the text.

And while a majority of the parliament's biggest party voted against the compromise, the party was divided and a significant minority, 28 EPP MEPs, voted to approve the law.

The liberal Renew party was also divided — with many German and Dutch MEPs opposing the law.

The Nature Restoration Law was finally passed with a margin of 54 votes.

Ahead of the vote, the agricultural lobbyist Copa-Cogeca sent out a list of voting recommendations to MEPs, telling them what to vote for.

"A filled-out ballot to be used during the vote. With pluses and minuses without any further motivation or information," complained Socialist and Democrats MEP Mohammed Chahim on social media.

"[Copa-Cogeca doesn't] want politicians to inform themselves but to blindly adopt their positions," he added.

Tuesday's vote followed serious and violent protests in Brussels, where several hundred tractors had gathered to block the EU quarter where agricultural ministers had gathered to discuss agricultural policy, amid a general backlash against Brussels green rules.

The approved legislation gives member states two years to plan how they will restore 20 percent of the EU's land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems by 2050.

This is significant because, according to the EU Commission, around 80 percent of Europe's natural habitats are in poor health.

Ireland's Sean Kelly, who was among the minority of EPP MEPs that voted to approve the text, said that the "next stage of the process will be an in-depth consultation with farmers and fishers who will have an opportunity to contribute" to national restoration plans.

"This is not some sort of 'land grab' and that needs to be made abundantly clear," he said to reassure farmers. "Obligations to deliver on this law do not lie with individual farmers and landowners. It is up to the government to lead on restoration measures."

The law will be rubber-stamped by the EU's environment ministers next month.

Angry farmers block Brussels again, urge fix to 'unfair' prices

Following weeks of demonstrations across Europe, farmers returned to Brussels to protest over unfair competition in prices, as EU agriculture ministers met just a few metres away to discuss a response. The police used water cannon and tear gas.


Farmers are right to protest — but Green Deal is wrong target

Farmers' anger is legitimate and we share it. But sending the message that green rules are to blame, while supporting a system that only benefits Big Agri, is nothing short of betrayal, writes Greenpeace's director of agriculture policy for Europe.


Environment, Ukraine imports, fish and Easter this WEEK

This week, expect no more than talks on environment, agriculture and fisheries, including discussions between the Polish and Ukrainian governments over angry protests by Polish farmers objecting to cheap grain imports from Ukraine.


This 'deregulation' lobbying now threatens EU economy

Next week's EU summit (17-18 April) will discuss the strategic agenda for the next five years. The current "competitiveness agenda" is to a large extent driven by a big lobbying campaign — so far, not well covered by the media.

Latest News

  1. UK-EU deal on Gibraltar only 'weeks away'
  2. Belgium declares war on MEPs who took Russian 'cash'
  3. Brussels Dispatches: Foreign interference in the spotlight
  4. Calling time on Amazon's monopolism and exploitation
  5. Resist backlash on deforestation law, green groups tell EU
  6. China's high-quality development brings opportunities to the world
  7. Ukraine tops aid list again, but EU spending slumps
  8. Who did Russia pay? MEPs urge spies to give names

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersJoin the Nordic Food Systems Takeover at COP28
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersHow women and men are affected differently by climate policy
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersArtist Jessie Kleemann at Nordic pavilion during UN climate summit COP28
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersCOP28: Gathering Nordic and global experts to put food and health on the agenda
  5. Friedrich Naumann FoundationPoems of Liberty – Call for Submission “Human Rights in Inhume War”: 250€ honorary fee for selected poems
  6. World BankWorld Bank report: How to create a future where the rewards of technology benefit all levels of society?

Join EUobserver

EU news that matters

Join us