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EU green light: Nature restoration law finally adopted after prolonged negotiations

  • EU green light: Nature restoration law finally adopted after prolonged negotiations

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In a pivotal decision, the Nature Restoration Law was passed by environment ministers in Luxembourg today, following months of arduous negotiations between the EU Council and the European Parliament, reports EuroNews. This landmark legislation aims to address the severe degradation of ecosystems across the continent.

The breakthrough came after Austria unexpectedly shifted its stance, unblocking the impasse that had persisted despite intense diplomatic efforts. The last-minute change facilitated the adoption of the law, which had been proposed back in 2022 and faced numerous hurdles along the way.

Belgium had scheduled a public debate to address the stalemate surrounding the biodiversity legislation. The debate was set in motion after back-channel discussions failed to yield a consensus the previous week. This law mandates environmental restoration on 20% of the EU's land and sea areas by 2030, with specific long-term goals for revitalizing various ecosystems.

The European Parliament had initially ratified the legislation following an informal agreement with the EU Council of Ministers last November. However, the law’s final approval was hindered by several member states, including Austria, Belgium, Finland, Italy, the Netherlands, Poland, Sweden, and Hungary. These countries signalled intentions to abstain or oppose the vote, effectively blocking it. Yet, Austria's reversal allowed the legislation to pass.

Austrian Climate Minister Leonore Gewessler emphasized the law's critical role in combating climate change during the debate. “We need to ensure legal certainty for those using soil and land,” Gewessler stated. She acknowledged that Austria would need to amend national provisions, noting support from Vienna and Carinthia, despite their initial opposition.

However, Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer had urged Gewessler not to approve the law, asserting that she was "not entitled to commit" Austria to such legislation. This underscored the internal tensions within Austria regarding the law.

Opposition from various EU countries stemmed from concerns about the farming sector, environmental standards, and implementation costs. Italian Vice-Minister Vannia Gava expressed dissatisfaction, highlighting the increased economic and administrative burdens on agriculture. Finland's Environment Minister Kai Mykkänen echoed concerns about the law's cost-effectiveness.

Despite these reservations, EU Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and fFsheries. Virginijus Sinkevičius called for unity and action. “Let’s put ideology behind us and get to work all together. The time for political and ideological discussion is over; now let’s get on with the job,” Sinkevičius urged.

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