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European Parliament passes landmark nature restoration law

February 27, 2024

EU lawmakers have voted to pass the bloc's flagship law to restore degraded ecosystems. It came after weeks of farmers' protests against enviornment policies across the EU.

A lapwing stands in a resting area on a moorland meadow
The law aims to reverse the decline of Europe's natural habitats, 81% of which are classed as being in poor healthImage: Wolfram Steinberg/dpa/picture alliance

European Union lawmakers on Tuesday approved the bloc's nature restoration law, keeping alive a policy that has become a target of farmers' protests across member states.

Farming unions had urged members of the parliament to support the agricultural sector by rejecting the text.

How the parliament voted

Lawmakers passed the law with 329 votes in favor, 275 against, and 24 abstentions. It was opposed by the European People's Party (EPP), the largest political grouping in the parliament, which said on Monday it was opposed to more red tape and reporting obligations for farmers.

The bill had already been watered down after previous EPP attempts to stop it.

The vote followed weeks of farmers protests across Europe, which included a violent demonstration on Monday outside the European Union's Brussels headquarters.

Virginijus Sinkevicius, European Commissioner for Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, thanked those who voted in favor of the bill. 

The policy needs final approval from EU member states before it enters into force. While such a green light would normally be a formality, it is not guaranteed and some recent EU policies have faced blockages and delays because of domestic pushback. 

What is included in the law?

The new law sets a target for the EU to restore at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 and all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050. It aims is to reverse the decline of Europe's natural habitats, 81% of which are classed as being in poor health.

The law also sets specific targets such as peatlands that can soak up CO2 emissions and help curb climate change. Other ecosystems explicitly covered by the law include forests, grasslands, and wetlands, as well as rivers, lakes, and coral beds.

Member states must restore at least 30% of habitats specifically covered by the new law from a poor to a good condition by 2030. hat target would increase to 60% by 2040, and 90% by 2050.

What is the EU's Nature Restoration Law?

rc/sms (Reuters, EFE)