Clashes in European Parliament about postponement of nature restoration law

Not only in the Netherlands, but also in an increasing number of other EU countries, amendments to the controversial nature restoration law are being pressed, even as far as the European Parliament.

In a main debate on making agriculture more sustainable, dozens of MEPs supported Esther de Lange's (CDA) call on Wednesday to send the European Commission's nature restoration law 'back to the drawing board'.  

Last weekend, politicians in several EU countries (including Austria, Ireland and Croatia) supported that call. Earlier, ministers of some Central European countries already called for a postponement. Because the Christian Democrats did not submit any proposals or a resolution in Strasbourg on Wednesday, no vote has yet been taken on a possible postponement. That can still be done in the coming months.

It was striking that it was not Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski who did not defend the policy of the European Commission in the debate, but Vice-President Mairead McGuinness. When Wojciechowski did join the conference table after the debate to discuss the next item on the agenda, this earned him an angry outburst from EPP group chairman Manfred Weber, who called the absence 'unacceptable'.

It is not clear whether the LNV commissioner himself decided to leave the defense of the Green Deal to McGuinness, or whether he stayed away at the Commission's insistence. Climate Commissioner Timmermans also did not participate in the debate.

However, this has made it even clearer that not only the earlier SUR pesticide proposals, but also the Nature Restoration Act have now become a thorny subject in European environmental and agricultural policy.

Currently, LNV ministers and EU politicians from various countries are still trying to find compromises and adjustments, because a majority is only emerging in a limited number of areas. This occurs not only in the Agriculture Committee of the European Parliament and in the Agriculture Council, but also in the Environment Committee and among environment ministers.