Green credentials at stake as EU scrambles to save nature restoration law

The European Union’s green commitments are on shaky ground as countries remain split over the bloc’s flagship nature restoration law – one of the biggest environmental policies ever put forward. The divisions underscore the profound impact that protests by farmers have had on EU politics.

Aimed at reversing decades of damage to the EU’s land and water habitats, the law is a crucial pillar of the EU’s ambitious climate agenda.

It obliges countries to restore nature on a fifth of land and sea ecosystems by 2030. This rises to 60 percent by 2040 and at least 90 percent by 2050.

The law, which took two years to engineer, was approved by the EU parliament in February – despite a last-minute revolt by the centre-right European People's Party.

It was on its way to being rubber-stamped during a final vote by environmental ministers – usually a formality – on Monday when Hungary suddenly withdrew its support.

This meant the policy no longer had the requisite backing of at least 55 percent of EU countries that represent 65 percent of the population – so the vote on it was indefinitely postponed.

Now, it appears, everything is back on the table – despite the many months of hoop-jumping, text rewrites, backroom negotiations, compromises, and kowtowing to farmers worried about the impacts on industry.

Belgium itself has said it will abstain from the vote.


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