Nature and the ever-growing list of stakeholders supporting the Nature Restoration Law can breathe a sigh of relief as the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) Committee of the European Parliament rejected attempts by conservative and right-wing groups to kill the proposed law in a very tight vote this morning 1.
However, as a result of party politics and EPP’s continued attempts at undermining the law, not all compromises that had been negotiated were supported, resulting in a split on many issues. The committee eventually ran out of time, and after a three hours-long session, the vote on the remaining amendments and the final report was postponed until 27 June.
The European People’s Party (EPP) has been spreading disinformation for months and through unprecedented manoeuvers, substituting those group members refusing to follow the party’s line to reject the proposal. The group even decided to withdraw from the negotiations, turning their back on amendments aiming to provide financial support to farmers introducing restoration measures. It is also very regrettable that some RENEW members also took a position against nature restoration. Despite these setbacks, other groups in the Parliament (S&D, the Greens, the Left and a majority of RENEW) stood their ground and voted for citizens, farmers, fishers, and businesses who are all threatened by the impacts of climate change and nature loss.
Sabien Leemans, Senior Biodiversity Policy Officer at WWF European Policy Office: “Today, the EU narrowly escaped a huge international embarrassment. However, the upcoming weeks are the last chance for the Members of the European Parliament to save the Nature Restoration Law, the EU’s credibility and at the same time deliver on the Green Deal. The ENVI Committee needs to stay true to its own mission: fight against climate change and stop nature loss. There is no Green Deal without the biodiversity pillar and there is no biodiversity pillar without the Nature Restoration Law.”
Sofie Ruysschaert, Nature Restoration Policy Officer at Birdlife Europe: "Today, despite a humongous disinformation campaign by the EPP group, as well as threats issued behind closed doors, a strong group of other MEPs managed to stand up for the Nature Restoration Law and the EU Green Deal. They heeded the facts and figures presented by thousands of European scientists. The outcome of today’s votes, mean there might just be some hope for European decision-making, democracy, and saving Europe after all.”
Ioannis Agapakis, Nature Conservation Lawyer at ClientEarth: “Despite no final vote, this indispensable law to restore the EU’s land and ocean lives to fight another day. However, the chaotic votes on individual amendments could create major loopholes that – if unaddressed – risk substantially weakening the law. If on the 27th, the Committee chooses to ignore common sense, the law and science it will actively endanger us and nature. We need a law that will deliver long-term restoration on the ground, otherwise biodiversity loss will be further exacerbated, with the EU's economy and its citizens’ future being the first ones to pay the price.”
Sergiy Moroz, Policy Manager for Water and Biodiversity at the European Environmental Bureau: “Recent weeks have seen a growing chorus of unprecedented support for the Nature Restoration Law2, including from the scientific community, as this law offers a solution to tackle both the climate and biodiversity crises. Science is clear: the biggest threats to food security and to farmers are climate change and the degradation of nature. We urge the MEPs to resist the misinformation campaigns and continue negotiating constructively towards the adoption of a strong Nature Restoration Law in the lead committee and plenary without further delay.”
The remaining amendments and the final report will now be put to the vote in the ENVI committee in its next session on 27 June. That vote will also define what is tabled at plenary for a vote of the full Parliament.
Notes to editors
1 The Committee first voted on the amendment to reject the law with the result of 44-44 which meant it did not pass through.
2 The Nature Restoration Law has received support from the wind energy and solar industry, scientists, the progressive farming community, European hunters, financial institutions, European mayors, an increasing number of companies and business associations, and over 800,000 citizens calling for an ambitious Nature Restoration Law through various campaigns, which were launched by the #RestoreNature coalition (incl. Avaaz), WeMove, the European Greens etc.
Thumbnail image: Wild Wonders of Europe, Diego Lopez, WWF