An agreement between the European Parliament, the Commission and the Council on the Nature Restoration Law reached late on Thursday 10 November is a giant step forward for a legislation that has had to navigate a political climate and politicised obstacles that have nothing to do with its own objectives. This agreement is more ambitious than the one that came out of the European Parliament in July, which is unusual in these procedures. For example, it has recovered the specific requirements for increasing nature on farmland, as well as for restoring peatlands, a crucial issue according to the European Living Lakes Association member Fundacion Global Nature.
In this respect, the deal is more ambitious than the weak position that the Parliament adopted in July. But it is still far from what the science is telling us. Without biodiversity, there will be no food security, nor will we be able to tackle the severe climate crisis we face. This very simplified law aims to rehabilitate at least 20% of Europe’s degraded ecosystems by 2030.
There are still formalities to overcome and, in the case of a law that has advanced in an unusual way, with huge negotiations involved and very narrow votes at every step, nothing is assured. The agreement reached must be endorsed by member states, as it has to pass a crucial vote in the European Parliament’s Environment Committee at the end of November 2023. If the proposal successfully passes these steps, it will then be put to a final vote on the Parliament’s plenary, which is expected to take place in December 2023.
Fundación Global Nature welcomes the fact that the law is moving forward, but also points out that there is a “relaxation introduced to please all parties that weakens some of the most important objectives of the law”.
Together with the other entities that are part of the #RestoreNature campaign to reach an ambitious NRL, Living Lakes underlines the excessive flexibility in terms of the obligations introduced, which will leave a lot of leeway to Member States, and can become a double-edged sword.
The main components of the agreement are:
- Finally, the scope of restoration in terrestrial habitats will be inside and outside RN2000 and will be decided by the Member States. This is a positive decision, but important loopholes have been added that may reduce the total area to be restored.
- The requirement to prevent deterioration has been seriously undermined, making it difficult to implement.
- With regard to agricultural ecosystems, concrete requirements to increase nature on farmland, as well as to restore peatlands, have been included in the agreement. Nevertheless, this key advancement comes with important concessions, weaker monitoring indicators, and the possibility to pause the implementation of the legislation, also known as the “emergency brake”.
- Targets to reverse the loss of pollinators, and to restore 25,000 km of rivers, remain.