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15th Apr 2024

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EU's Nature Restoration Law: more funds, better agriculture

  • One particular European People's Party (EPP) MEP swore to 'shoot down' the Nature Restoration legislation — but the EPP have instead only shot themselves in the foot (Photo: The Left)
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"The world appears to be entering its sixth mass extinction period brought about entirely by humans...The time to recognise this phenomenon as occurring has already passed... And now is the pivotal time to protect the future integrity of biodiversity, and thereby the persistence of humanity".

"The persistence of humanity". Let that sink in.

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This is not a new Netflix series, but a recent study published in the Biological Reviews journal. The authors — scientists from Queens's University Belfast — determined that almost half of all the earth's species are currently in decline.

According to the UN, up to one million of the estimated eight million plant and animal species on Earth are at risk of extinction — many of them within decades.

In Europe, the European Commission estimates that more than 80 percent of habitats are in "poor" condition.

EPP 'disinformation rampage'

It is well known at this stage that the European People's Party (EPP) is on a disinformation rampage targeting the Nature Restoration Law. They are spewing dangerous propaganda about one of the most important pieces of legislation that has ever come before the European Parliament. But their disinformation campaign is backfiring and has now become counterproductive.

There are only so many times you can repeat a lie and have it exposed before people stop believing you. Their outrageous misrepresentations of this law have been repeatedly debunked — by the European Commission, by scientists, and even by business and industry.

The EPP's most recent humiliation in terms of its disinformation campaign happened this week when WindEurope emphatically welcomed the regulation, not for the first time, and put to bed any notion that the Nature Restoration Law would hamper the roll out of renewable energy.

The EPP have repeatedly insisted that the Nature Restoration Law would undermine our ability to meet our renewable energy targets. Yet, WindEurope couldn't be any clearer: EPP is "fundamentally wrong" they said.

One particular EPP MEP swore to "shoot down" this legislation, but EPP have instead only shot themselves in the foot.

As EPP slips into bed with the far-right in a more formal alliance this time, we see them adopting the same hysteria tactics we are more accustomed to with neo-fascists.

Let's be honest with ourselves — no one is coming for your children. The Nature Restoration Law is not about taking things from people or holding us back. The EPP would have you think that this law is about forcing people to do work they don't want to do, and suffering economically for it.

The opposite is true. It's actually about new opportunities, and the viability of our livelihoods as we know them. It will set the legal framework for biodiversity, which will open a myriad of new opportunities for people, including farmers.

A major addition to the draft law that the European Parliament's environment committee's rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs, myself included, have agreed to, is a new chapter on funding.

This chapter opens the door for new and predictable finance streams, for those who choose to trail blaze. A key part of this new chapter is the potential for a new permanent, dedicated nature restoration fund within the MFF — fresh money for those that lead the way in nature restoration efforts. This would be totally separate from the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Why are EPP, who claim to be taking the side of the farmers', opposing this new opportunity for farmers to get new, additional money?

There is also huge potential for leveraging private and joint public and private investments in relation to the Nature Restoration Law, for example through the EU taxonomy, and the Business for Biodiversity movement.

The commission is already working with the European Investment Bank and other implementing partners through the InvestEU programme and the GreenAssist initiative to build a pipeline of green investments and scale up public/private blended finance for nature restoration. The new 'Guidelines on State aid for Climate, Environmental Protection and Energy' also offer significant funding possibilities.

If EPP wants to see farmers supported and financially incentivised to restore nature, then they should support the Nature Restoration Law.

No one will be forced to do anything with this law.

This is about just transition, and those who decide themselves to lead the way will be rewarded. The uptake of measures will have to be made attractive by each national government.

There is an explicit obligation on member states to do so when it comes to restoring drained peatlands. Each member state will detail in their own nature restoration plans what they are planning to do — where, when, how and what they will restore, and public participation is built into the very core of this planning mechanism.

Compensation schemes are also explicitly part of this process. Those who choose to fully rewet their land, for example, deserve to have this option for financial compensation. We cannot allow EPP to tank this ship of new opportunities.

Author bio

Mike Wallace is an Irish MEP for The Left, who was a shadow rapporteur on the EU Nature Restoration Law on behalf of the European Parliament.

Disclaimer

This article is sponsored by a third party. All opinions in this article reflect the views of the author and not of EUobserver.

Double rejection for EU flagship nature restoration plan

MEPs from the agriculture and fisheries committees have voted to reject the nature restoration proposal — a key proposal that aims to halt biodiversity loss and reverse the degradation of ecosystems in the bloc.

EU launches agri-food dialogue, amid farmer revolts

EU Commission president Ursula von der Leyen launched this week "a strategic dialogue" on the future of agriculture in the EU. The initiative comes amid discontent and farmers' protests in several countries.

Row over EPP 'blackmailing' MEPs on eve of nature vote

The centre-right European People's Party (EPP) denied any form of blackmailing — after the chair of the environment committee accused the EPP chair of threatening his own members with political retaliation if they vote for the controversial restoration law.

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