Cyprus Mail

EU nature law on knife-edge after losing first vote


By Kate Abnett

A European Union Parliament committee on Tuesday rejected the bloc’s landmark law to protect nature, which the parliament’s biggest lawmaker group is leading a campaign to block in a decisive vote next month.

The bill to revive ailing environments – which aims to restore nature on 20 per cent of EU land and sea – is facing a political backlash from the European People’s Party group in the EU Parliament, which has called for its rejection.

In a tight vote, 44 lawmakers voted for the law and 44 against, meaning it failed to win majority support. The bill now heads to a full EU Parliament vote on July 11, where failure to win majority support would kill off the proposal.

“The European Commission must get back to work and present a new text, better drafted and respectful of the expectations of Europeans,” EPP lawmaker Anne Sander said in a tweet.

Brussels has suggested tweaks to the law to address concerns, but has refused to withdraw its proposal – which it says is urgently needed to reverse the decline of Europe’s natural habitats, 81 per cent of which are classed as in poor health.

Supporters from other parliament groups said they would try to club together to find a compromise deal ahead of the full parliament vote. EU officials said they expect a tight vote.

“With this law we’re ensuring food security and the undeniable improvement of nature for the benefit of farmers, livestock raisers and fishermen,” said Cesar Luena, parliament’s lead negotiator on the law.

The EPP’s opposition has centred on concerns that the law would hurt farmers and endanger food security. Those claims have been rejected by thousands of scientists.

The law also faced criticism from governments including Ireland and Belgium, with the latter warning the EU was pushing too much regulation onto industries.

Despite that, EU countries agreed a position on the nature bill last week – weakening some targets and asking for more EU money to support farmers in restoring nature, but backing its overall aims.

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