European farmers challenge current nature restoration proposal

European farmers' associations are protesting against a nature restoration law that aims to increase biodiversity.
European farmers' associations are protesting against a nature restoration law that aims to increase biodiversity. Copyright Isabel Marques da Silva/Euronews
By Isabel Marques da Silva
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The European Commission proposed a new nature restoration law last year.


Europe's largest farmers' associations are protesting against the European nature restoration law, a legislative proposal that would protect at least 20% of the EU's land and sea area by 2030.

Copa-Cogeca, which includes representatives of European farmers and agricultural cooperatives, wants the European Commission to withdraw the act, arguing that it will reduce areas for agriculture, forestry and horticultural activities.

“We would actually reduce our ability to produce food, and we would be more exposed to imports," Pekka Pesonen, secretary general of Copa-Cogeca, told Euronews on Thursday, during a protest in front of the European Parliament.

"We want to produce food for European citizens, and this legislation seriously threatens that objective of our sector," he added.

The European Commission says that the restoration legislation is important for addressing serious ecological threats.

Roughly 81% of habitats have a poor conservation status in the EU, according to the European Environment Agency.

Bees, birds and butterfly species are declining, which puts the balance of ecosystems in danger.

The new law is also seen as a tool to fight climate change, allowing for nature, such as forests, wetlands and grasslands, to thrive in order to capture C02 emissions.

These systems are fundamental to help limit global warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius -- the objective that was set in the Paris Agreement. That is why the law also contains targets for green urban spaces, river connectivity and marine protection.

Isabel Marques da Silva/Euronews
Farmers' associations say the law would reduce their ability to produce food.Isabel Marques da Silva/Euronews

Deadlock in the European Parliament?

All this is being discussed by the European Parliament, but on Wednesday, the centre-right European People's Party (EPP) decided to withdraw from negotiations.

Like Copa-Cogeca, the EPP demands a new comprehensive impact assessment by the European Commission before approving any legislation.

"We are not against nature restoration, we are against bad legislation, and that is why the EPP stands ready to shoot down the Nature Restoration Law as it stands today," said Tom Vandenkendelaere, Belgian MEP at the EPP, during the protest.

The leader of the EPP group, Manfred Weber, said that the measures would not take into account the economic impacts of the war in Ukraine and that it puts excessive pressure "on our rural communities and our farmers".

The law is a key element of the EU Green Deal, and the European Commission has even made the economic argument that every euro invested into nature restoration adds 8 to 38 euros in benefits, according to their estimations.

The centre-left, Greens and some liberal MEPs want to pass the legislation by the end of the year.

"For food security, we need ecological, sustainable systems that work for everyone. We are part of nature, we cannot think that the nature around (us) will get sick and we stay healthy... It does not work like that," Sarah Wiener, an Austrian MEP from the Greens, told Euronews.

"We have to think about other generations but also about what we are eating. Within our food chain, we eat also a little bit of pesticides, you eat antibiotics, you eat chemical stuff. Nobody wants to eat that," added this former restaurant chef who wants a review of the intensive agricultural model and a shift towards a more organic system.

This would be the first binding law requiring all 27 EU states to implement nature protection measures.


A 100 billion euros budget would help support the efforts. The countries are expected to submit National Restoration Plans to the European Commission within two years of the regulation coming into force.

The current Swedish presidency of the EU planned to reach a general approach at the ministerial level during the Environment Council, on 20th June.

In the meantime, César Luena, a Spanish socialist lawmaker, will try to get lawmakers to reach a consensus as the parliament's rapporteur for the law tabled in June 2022.

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