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Debates and Delays in EU’s Nature Restoration Laws

When Nature Calls: The Delay in EU’s Nature Restorative Laws

Hey there! So, you must already know that Spring has sprung in Brussels but, unfortunately, not for the environment. Here’s what’s up: The EU’s nature restoration law hangs in the balance… again! This law, quite the talk of the town, was supposed to get the green light at the members’ environmental minister meeting this Monday. However, Hungary pulled a swift one last week, changing their stance, which led to a slip in the required majority to push the law.

“The proposed law looks to rectify nature and wetlands, but heck, this twist isn’t making the Swedish government blue. Sweden would have voted against the law anyway, regardless of other countries’ opinions,”

mentioned deputy secretary Daniel Westlén, who represents Sweden at the meeting.

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Changing Stances – Why the U-turn?

Here’s a fun fact: the Hungarian governing party’s members in the EU Parliament had voted for nature restoration as late as end-February. However, their recent turnabout is justified by Anikó Raisz, stating that “a lot has happened” and they want to retain their flexibility. It’s also quite clear that protests within the agriculture sector across Europe are a major influencer.

“The agricultural sector is quite important, not just in Hungary. We have to be practical and consider all the actors and sectors we need to achieve our climate protection goals,”

Raisz stated.

What Happens Next?

The future of this law is murky. Besides Sweden and Hungary, countries like The Netherlands, Italy, and Poland also show resistance. As the presiding country, Belgium is scratching its head over the next move. Whether novel negotiations will kick in or the entire matter will be pushed until after the EU elections and next EU Commission is yet to be known.

If the law is halted, the Commission has to bounce back and then we’ll see what the next commission does, says Daniel Westlén. The former proposed this nature restoration law back in June 2022 to ensure “a continuous and sustainable revival of resilient nature with biological diversity”.

A Deeper Dive into The Law

The ultimate aim here is actions that cover at least 20% of EU’s land and water area by 2030 and all ecosystems that need restoration by 2050. The member countries and EU Parliament had major disagreements on the aforementioned proposal before a compromise agreement was reached last fall.

This law is essentially about how meadows and wetlands can be recreated, forests mixed, and green areas established in cities. The EU Parliament approved the law on February 27th. Nonetheless, approval from the EU countries in the Council of Ministers is also mandatory. So, guess we will just have to wait and see.

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