EU parliament agrees landmark Nature Restoration Law

13th July 2023

The European Parliament yesterday voted in favour of a new Nature Restoration Law, although green groups have argued that it is substantially weaker than the European Commission’s original proposal.

The amended law passed by a narrow margin, with 336 MEPs voting in favour, 300 against, and 13 abstentions; overcoming resistance from the centre-right European People's Party.

It states that nature restoration measures must cover at least 20% of all land and sea in the EU by 2030, and ultimately all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.

This is an essential component of the European Green Deal, with EU countries expected to submit national restoration plans to the Commission within two years of the regulation coming into force.

“Farmers and fishers will benefit from it, and it ensures a habitable earth for future generations," said César Luena, member of the Progressive Alliance of Socialists and Democrats.

“Now we must continue the good work, defend our ground during the negotiations with member states and reach an agreement before the end of this Parliament’s mandate to pass the first regulation on nature restoration in the EU's history.”

Over 80% of European habitats are in poor shape, with the European Commission arguing that the new regulation will contribute to long-term recovery, and that every €1 invested will result in at least €8 in benefits.

However, WWF EU said that yesterday’s vote “came at a very high cost”, with MEPs sacrificing many critical obligations and targets as part of a compromise.

For example, they adopted an amendment which would delay the implementation of the law until an assessment of the impact on Europe’s food security has been conducted - responding to a “scare-mongering campaign” conducted by the EPP and “far-right groups”.

A further element of weakening is the removal of the article guaranteeing the fundamental right of access to justice, risking more violations of the Aarhus Convention and an uneven playing field across member states.

Speaking yesterday, Sabien Leemans, senior biodiversity policy officer at WWF EU, said: “It is thanks to massive support from the public, the scientific community and progressive businesses that a majority of MEPs voted in favour of the law.

"Still, today’s win came at a high cost. Even with an unprecedented mobilisation to save Europe’s nature, the Parliament’s position is far from what science tells us is necessary to tackle nature loss and climate change.”

Image credit: Shutterstock


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