Party for the Animals: “A stricter European Nature Restoration Law is of vital impor­tance”

6 september 2023

The majority of the European Parliament supports the European Nature Restoration Law, the first continent-wide nature restoration law in the world. However, this law – which is of direly needed – has been watered down considerably. MEP for the Party for the Animals Anja Hazekamp: “Whether the law will be sufficiently effective to truly restore Europe’s seriously damaged nature depends on the tenacity of our European leaders. The Party for the Animals intends to put up a fierce battle for this. A stricter Nature Restoration Law guarantees a healthy future for everyone.”

Nature in Europe is suffering, and alarming news in connection with this reaches us every day. Over 80% of our nature reserves are in very poor condition. One out of every three pollinating species, such as bees and butterflies, is on the brink of extinction. The quality of our soil and water is extremely poor, and our indigenous flora and fauna are suffering the consequences of this. Nature has been sacrificed too long for the sake of short-term economic interests.

After a number of fruitless attempts to put an end to the loss of nature and biodiversity, the European Commission submitted a proposal for an EU Nature Restoration Law in June 2022. This law intends to make nature restoration compulsory in all European countries. As from 2030, all EU member countries must have restoration measures in place covering at least 20% of their damaged land, river and sea areas. These measures must be expanded to cover 90% of all essentially damaged areas by 2050. Nature in urban areas will also be included in the Nature Recovery Law from 2030 onwards.

In the past few months, the European division of the Party for the Animals has put forward more than 100 proposals for a stricter Nature Restoration Law, and has participated in 15 rounds of negotiations addressing this important plan. The Party has submitted proposals, for example, to accelerate the restoration of nature rather than waiting until 2050 to complete this process. In her op-ed on this law, MEP Hazekamp wrote as follows: “The European Commission’s proposal has not come a second too soon. We do not have much time left if we want to safeguard the quality of our lives in the future. […] The IPCC (the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change) already warned us last year that urgent measures are needed for the restoration of ecosystems in order to mitigate the effects of climate change before it is too late.”

Both people and nature are highly dependent on bees for the pollination of crops and other plants. Bees are indispensable to us.

Opponents and disinformation

The Christian Democrats (the European People’s Party, EPP), the largest political party in the European Parliament, had already launched a fierce campaign against the law, supported by major commercial interests. They argue that the law would impede the construction of housing and roads, and would unnecessarily hamper the interests of farmers. The European Commission refuted these arguments by pointing out that the law is of substantial benefit not only to nature, the quality of our lives and food security, but also to the economy. According to the Commission, every euro invested in nature by the relevant countries arising from this law will, in fact, yield between 8 and 38 euros.

A stricter law of vital importance

Ultimately, the opposition did not prevail, and the law was adopted – albeit by a narrow margin. All in all, 324 MEPs voted in favour of the law, 312 voted against it, and 12 abstained. Unfortunately, the European Parliament had to water down the law substantially in order to get it adopted, which could lead to detrimental consequences. One of the most important items in the law – the improvement of biodiversity on agricultural land – was scrapped in its entirety. The Party for the Animals considers this to be highly problematic.

Nevertheless, the Party is relieved that this sorely needed law is still being pushed through and that all EU member states will be obliged to implement it. Ultimately, its effectiveness can only be assessed in practice. The final version of the Nature Restoration Act will be drafted during the last round of negotiations by the 27 EU ministers and the European Parliament. The Party for the Animals will continue to fight for a stricter law, precisely because it is of dire importance in guaranteeing food and water security and securing a healthy future for all of us.