The front issue is a specific law, but the substantive debate is much deeper. This Tuesday, the European Parliament will vote again in the Environment Committee on the so-called Nature Restoration Law, an initiative that aspires to recover 80% of European habitats in poor condition and return nature to a state as close to the ‘original’ in all ecosystems and which has become one of the most complicated and representative dossiers of the legislature.
On the one hand, greens, socialists and the left, who want to carry out the proposal this year. Of the other, Conservatives of various stripes who believe that climate and environmental ambitions are being overrun, ignoring the economic, social and employment consequences in the short term for millions of people. On one side, the Council of the EU, the ministers of the 27, and on the other the European Parliament. On one side, NGOs and associations, and on the other winners, fishermen and farmers.
The process in Europe is not like in a country. The legislative proposal comes from the European Commission, who is the one who has the experts and the initiative. Once he raises a text, the Council on its side and the Parliament on the other set their positions, modifying the approach according to their priorities, interests and political balances, sometimes hardening and sometimes diluting ambitions. And when both parties agree (some with a vote of the ministers and others with a vote in the branch commission and later in the plenary) they begin the final negotiations, known as trialogues until they reach common ground.
The ball is right now in the second step. The Commission launched the idea last year as part of the Biodiversity strategy, setting specific legally binding targets and obligations for the restoration of nature in all ecosystems from the seabed to farmland via rivers and urban environments. Your numbers say that 80% of European habitats are in poor condition and that more than 70% of the soils are in “unsanitary conditions”, which causes a “loss of agricultural productivity worth 1,250 million a year”. Last Tuesday, after much discussion and assignments and patches, the Council finally closed its position. AND Now it’s up to the Eurochamber, which is where the issue has settled.
In Strasbourg the issue has been discussed at various levels. The Agriculture and Fisheries commissions have positioned themselves against such an ambitious text, but the one that matters is the Environment. The popular ones launched an amendment to the entirety there, which would have slowed down the process, but it did not go ahead. There was a tie at 44 votes, and since there was no majority, it was discarded. But Members now have to vote on hundreds of specific amendments. They started in the middle of the month, but running out of time, it was postponed to this Tuesday. If a compromise text comes out there, lowered as the Commission’s initial proposal was lowered at the ministerial level, it will be submitted to a vote in plenary in July.