German nature association criticizes Özdemir for EU relaxation

The major German nature association NABU is critical of Agriculture Minister Cem Özdemir for allegedly helping to relax environmental regulations in agriculture. NABU chairman Krüger believes that the close ties between German environmental associations and the Greens in recent years have been wrong.

The major nature association also believes that the input of The Greens in the governments of various states and city councils is not effective and recognizable. “The performance balance in terms of ecology in the ieder case is significantly weaker than what we hoped and expected under green government participation.”

The NABU boss described as wrong the assumption that all environmental associations were “super close to the Greens”. “We environmental associations have not felt this in recent years, because the Greens, under government responsibility, have also made many decisions in the federal states that make us shake our heads,” Krüger said.

This criticism by the German environmental and nature organizations of the BMEL minister of Bundnis90/The Greens is remarkable, because Özdemir has so far mainly been regarded as an advocate of environmentally friendly agriculture in German politics and public opinion. According to many German agricultural organizations, it is even 'too green'.

This move by NABU comes as a surprise, given the Greens' historical association with German nature and environmental protection organizations. NABU's disappointment is mainly focused on the concessions made regarding environmental regulations in agriculture.

In particular, NABU Chairman Krüger criticized the fact that Özdemir had not rejected the European Commission's proposal to permanently abolish “compulsory fallow land”. A farmer who receives agricultural subsidies must actually leave four percent of his arable land to nature. Only existing 'landscape elements' such as hedges should be retained

Minister Özdemir has expressed objections to this both in German politics and in Brussels. He believes that, in view of the climate crisis, Europe should not lower its environmental ambitions, not even in agriculture. He repeatedly emphasizes the complexity of the agricultural sector and the need to both support agricultural production and protect the environment. 

The Federal Minister of Agriculture has repeatedly tried to achieve good solutions at European level, as is recognized by NABU. 'But often only one or two other European countries support him. That is why we want Chancellor Olaf Scholz to take matters into his own hands now," the German conservationists said.