EU Parliament passes nature restoration law

After months of fiery debate and 136 amendments, the European Parliament passed a new law for the restoration of endangered ecosystems in the EU on Wednesday. With 336 votes to 300, it was a knife-edge result. The European People’s Party (EPP), European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and far-right Identity and Democracy group (ID) had positioned themselves against the bill. What do the result and how it came about say about the EU?

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