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Biodiversity: MEPs narrowly validate a text on the restoration of damaged ecosystems

2024-02-27T18:13:41.044Z

Highlights: The European Parliament narrowly voted on Tuesday for legislation requiring the restoration of damaged ecosystems. For the first time, it requires the Twenty-Seven to establish measures to restore ecosystems on 20% of land and marine areas at EU level by 2030. The European People's Party (EPP) had called for a vote against this legislation, denouncing the "burden" imposed on farmers. The outcome of the vote was very uncertain. Three months before the European elections, conservative elected officials have reaffirmed their distrust of the “Green Deal”


The European Parliament definitively adopted on Tuesday a key text of the “Green Deal” to fight against the decline of biodiversity. The States


The epilogue of a long standoff.

The European Parliament narrowly voted on Tuesday for legislation requiring the restoration of damaged ecosystems, despite fierce opposition from the right in unison with agricultural organizations.

For the first time, it requires the Twenty-Seven to establish measures to restore ecosystems on 20% of land and marine areas at EU level by 2030, by establishing national action plans. .

A “historic advance” and a “very important leap”, welcomed the Spanish socialist MEP César Luena, the rapporteur of the text, at a press conference.

“Restarting ecosystems”

With a narrow margin (329 for, 275 against, 24 abstentions), the MEPs meeting in Strasbourg validated the agreement reached in mid-November between the negotiators of the Parliament and the Member States on this key text of the European “Green Deal”, which aims to halt the decline of biodiversity.

This legislation, which will come into force after official confirmation from States, will also oblige each member country to restore, by 2030, at least 30% of habitats in poor condition.

A list which includes wetlands, forests, rivers, underwater meadows, with priority given to Natura2000 areas.

The proportion will then rise to 60% by 2040 and 90% by 2050.

The text also provides for other objectives, such as improving criteria measuring the health of forests, removing obstacles on waterways and stopping the decline of bees.

“While nature is regressing everywhere, this law will make it possible to restart ecosystems where it is necessary”, with all the same “flexibilities” to “not put nature under cover”, welcomed Pascal Canfin (Renew, liberals), the president of the parliamentary Environment committee.

The outcome of the vote was very uncertain.

The European People's Party (EPP, right), the first group in Parliament, had called for a vote against this legislation, denouncing the "burden" imposed on farmers, and the far right had tabled rejection amendments.

Three months before the European elections, conservative elected officials have reaffirmed their distrust of the “Green Deal”, a vast set of environmental regulations widely criticized during agricultural demonstrations.

“Bittersweet Victory”

The environmental NGOs BirdLife, ClientEarth, EEB and WWF said they were “relieved that MEPs listened to science without giving in to populism”, but not entirely satisfied.

It is “a bittersweet victory for nature and our food systems: the legislation has been seriously weakened, at the risk of cardiac arrhythmia, but at least its heart is still beating,” said Sini Eräjää, from Greenpeace.

During an epic battle in the European Parliament last summer, the EPP sought to radically weaken the scope of the text after vainly calling for its outright abandonment.

Under pressure, Parliament saved the text during a vote on its position in July, but had largely emptied the legislative project of its substance.

Read alsoClimate: the EU reveals its ambition for 2040, a sensitive political issue four months before the elections

The final agreement certainly provides that at least 30% of drained peatlands used in agriculture be restored by 2030, but with possible flexibilities and optional re-watering for farmers.

An “emergency brake” was also introduced so that Brussels could suspend the application of the text in the event of “exceptional” circumstances, such as a “serious” impact on agri-food production.

However, this was not enough to reassure Copa-Cogeca, the powerful organization of the majority European agricultural unions, which fought until the end the provisions deemed “unrealistic and unfunded”.

In a press release, he deplored a law that was “erroneous from the start” and “unacceptable” in its current version.

“The problem is not climate laws, it is the state of nature and climate change,” replied rapporteur César Luena.

Source: leparis

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