EU Member States Backtracking On Nature Restoration Law Undermines Democratic Process

Mar 28

EU Member States Backtracking On Nature Restoration Law Undermines Democratic Process

By Grace Carr

Published March 28th 2024

A very disappointing turn of events has happened over the past week in regards to the NRL. The Council should have completed the final rubber stamp of the law on Monday. This is usually just a formality as intense negotiations had already taken place and an agreement reached with the Council being a negotiating partner on the final text. However, this didn’t go ahead.

A last minute U-turn by Hungary deciding that they no longer accepted the law meant that the number of Member States approving the text totalled 64.05% of the total EU population. A law needs 65% of the EU population at Council level to pass. Many Hungarian MEPs voted in favour of the law in the final Parliament vote at the end of February and so this change of heart from the Hungarian representatives in the Council is a political move looking towards the EU elections approaching and the projected wins for right leaning parties.

Other Member States opposing the law are Sweden, the Netherlands and Italy with Finland, Austria, Belgium and Poland all abstaining.

Cesar Luena the rapporteur on the NRL has stated that failing to respect institutional negotiations and agreements will lead us down a bad path and the EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius has stated that this will undermine the EU’s international credibility and that the current stalemate raises serious questions about the coherence and stability of EU decision making.

NGOs are calling on the Belgium presidency of the Council (they are in this role until June 2024 when Hungary will then take over) to get the file back on the agenda and ensure its adoption. While this isn’t the end yet, things are not looking good for the Nature Restoration Law. We must continue to make noise about this and not allow it to die a silent death by political games and backroom politics.