MEPs vote on the Nature Restoration Law in July (Photo by FREDERICK FLORIN/AFP via Getty Images)
Nature Restoration Law: Key law to protect nature nears finishing line

Following two rounds of talks on the text, which aims to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all EU damaged ecosystems by 2050, the final ‘trilogue’ involving Parliament, Council and Commission negotiators is scheduled for this Thursday.

S&D (Socialists & Democrats) MEP César Luena, the lead negotiator for the European Parliament, told ENDS Europe he is confident there will be an agreement “that satisfies the majority of political groups”.

In July the conservative EPP group pushed for a rejection of the proposed regulation, calling on the Commission to withdraw the legislation. The attempt was averted by few votes, as the European Parliament’s negotiating position was adopted with a majority of 336 to 300 and 13 abstentions, but the text was significantly weakened compared to initial intentions.

 In particular, lawmakers endorsed an amended text put forward by the Renew Europe group that aligned with the EU Council’s negotiating position. One of the adopted amendments, tabled on behalf of the eurosceptic ECR group, deleted an entire section on restoring agricultural lands. The right also succeeded in the call for a delay to the implementation of the regulation pending a food security impact assessment by the Commission.

Green MEP Jutta Paulus said “the negotiations must be a success for nature” and moorland protection should be brought back into the law. She also warned against implementation delays or limiting restoration measures to Natura 2000 protected areas.

Luena said the Spanish Presidency is “significantly facilitating the negotiation process”, with environment minister Teresa Ribera and Spain’s prime minister Pedro Sánchez “very involved and firmly committed to making this law a reality very soon”.

 “The urgency to address the increasingly rapid deterioration of nature does not depend on purely election-driven political stances. I understand the sensitivities to which some groups respond, and I will work to ensure that these concerns are addressed in the final text, as long as it does not compromise the regulation's core objective, which is to restore the health of our ecosystems,” Parliament‘s rapporteur added.

Green groups, including the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), ClientEarth, BirdLife and WWF, said “failing to reach a meaningful agreement would put into question the EU’s fulfilment of both domestic and international biodiversity and climate commitments”.

“One of the most important points is to secure quantified and legally binding targets for all key ecosystems, including agricultural ecosystems and peatlands. Restoring drained peatlands is a critical solution for climate mitigation and adaptation and must be part of the final law,” they added.

Once an agreement is reached, it will have to be formally passed by the Council and Parliament, with the risk of another slim majority.


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