EU: debate over the passing of the nature restoration law

With 336 votes to 300, the European Parliament passed a new law for the restoration of endangered ecosystems in the EU on Wednesday. The European People’s Party (EPP), European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and far-right Identity and Democracy group (ID) had vehemently opposed the proposed legislation but in the end MEPs from the EPP and ECR also voted in favour. A success for the environment and politics or just greenwashing?

La Repubblica (IT) /

The crusade has failed

This vote was about more than environmental protection, La Repubblica declares, and is relieved at the result:

“The attempt by the European right to embroil the EPP in an anti-environmental crusade has failed. ... The unprecedented alliance between the European People’s Party and the anti-European right, including both the right-wing conservatives led by Meloni and the populist extremists Salvini and Le Pen, has failed to break the back of the EU government. Weber’s unscrupulous project of positioning the EPP as a political tipping point that can form majorities with either the right or with the socialists, greens and liberals as it pleases has not passed the test of numbers.”

Andrea Bonanni
Süddeutsche Zeitung (DE) /

A victory over short-sighted politics

The EPP’s defeat is a victory for Europe’s ecosystems, the Süddeutsche Zeitung writes in delight:

“Withered forests have no time for moratoriums. Wild bees can’t hang around waiting for farmers to be in a better position to deal with somewhat greener legislation. The climate crisis poses existential questions; it may become one of the greatest threats to social peace in Europe. It is the real threat in terms of food security. Lots of ambitious environmental and climate protection measures have been carried out in recent years, Weber said on Wednesday morning, ‘but we are losing jobs and prosperity’. Those who talk like that are doing short-sighted politics.”

Jan Diesteldorf
hvg (HU) /

Scientific facts prevailed

The passing of the law was unexpected for many, observes hvg:

“For the opponents of the law, including the Hungarian ruling party Fidesz, it came as a surprise that the European Parliament voted by a slim majority in favour. ... Nature conservation and overwhelming scientific consensus won out. ... Tough negotiations still lie ahead, but the law has survived the first major challenge and is well on its way to implementation.”

Kata Moravecz
Le Courrier (CH) /

Money triumphs over reason

Le Courrier sees the new law as a sham and proof that economic interests are taking precedence:

“One could even talk here of denial, because these targets were already agreed on last December at the COP 15 on biodiversity. In particular regarding the goal of protecting 30 percent of the Earth’s land and marine areas by 2030. Right now that figure stands at only 17 percent. The way the EU Parliament is using and abusing delaying tactics to miss these targets is particularly telling. The lobbies of the agri-food giants have shown what’s what. As soon as economic interests are at stake, reason gives way to moolah.”

Philippe Bach
Kurier (AT) /

Slap in the face for the EPP

For Kurier the total blockade of the law has been a resounding failure:

“EPP leader Manfred Weber positioned himself as the frontman for all those for whom the fight against climate change is moving too fast and for whom the guidelines from Brussels are too radical. ... Which led to this proposed legislation proposal becoming the focus of a full-blown culture war, with the EPP, as the self-appointed spokesperson for farmers and the rural population, pitched against the city dwellers, the Greens, the Left and 6,000 academics and scientists. The EPP did not skimp on the scaremongering. ... The law is now being negotiated with the EU governments. And it will come into force. This is a big slap in the face for the EPP, which by targeting voters had set its sights on a total blockade.”

Ingrid Steiner-Gashi
Irish Examiner (IE) /

A disheartening compromise

The Irish Examiner finds the slim majority in favour of a watered-down version of the new law disappointing:

“Some of the most important clauses and ambitions for nature contained within the proposal are now gone. ... Meanwhile, the twin climate and biodiversity crises do not respect political intrigue and votes or timelines. ... As nature weakens, extreme weather gets stronger. More than 80% of protected habitats across the EU are in a bad state, according to the European Environment Agency. ... Those grave figures were not enough for nearly half of the European Parliament’s elected politicians, who voted to shoot nature restoration down.”

Pádraig Hoare
Corriere della Sera (IT) /

Environmental protection as the new dividing line

Corriere della Sera comments:

“Like the ‘democratic question’ in the 19th century and the ‘social question’ in the 20th, the ‘green question’ is developing into the great dividing line between right and left in the 2000s. ... The grand coalition that carried the von der Leyen Commission has collapsed: Weber’s conservatives attempted a coup by allying with the right to make the project fail while the left united in support of the law. ... The green transition seems tailor-made to divide rich societies along the lines of the material interests that used to be referred to as ‘class’ interests.”

Antonio Polito