Centre-right EPP group calls for rewriting of EU's nature restoration law on eve of vote

Ladybugs cluster on a leaf.
Ladybugs cluster on a leaf. Copyright Paul Chinn/San Francisco Chronicle
Copyright Paul Chinn/San Francisco Chronicle
By Gregoire Lory
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The legislation has been the subject of fierce debate between political factions within the European Parliament.

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All eyes will be on the European Parliament's environment committee on Tuesday, which is due to vote again on the EU's landmark Nature Restoration Law, after months of bitter dispute.

The centre-right and far-right want to outright reject the proposal, which aims to restore habitats and species that have been degraded by human activity and climate change, saying it threatens agricultural production and therefore food safety.

EPP legislator Christine Schneider, from Germany, reiterated the party's attack on Monday, calling for the European Commission to "rewrite" its proposals, describing it as a "badly-designed law". 

Environmentally-focused groups, like the Greens, have rejected this though, arguing that EU agriculture depends on healthy ecosystems and that the "real threats to food security are climate change and biodiversity collapse" and that the planned law is a "win-win for farmers, nature, climate and human health".

The farming community has stressed that, as things stand, there are not enough resources to make this transition a success.

Vincent Delobel, an organic farmer near Tournai in Belgium, told Euronews he has not waited for political decisions to be taken before launching his farm in the direction of preserving ecosystems, such as the installation of plant fences.

"These hedges are home to a large number of insects, which can be beneficial to crops, but they also provide shade for animals and firewood for the house. Thanks to their extensive root systems, they also help to percolate rainwater deeper into the soil, particularly in extreme weather," Delobel said in an interivew.

For him, everything starts with the soil. His meadows are diversified with grass and vegetables, always with a view to restoring ecosystems.

This variety attracts more insects and the different roots of each plant strengthen the soil against extreme weather conditions. He rotates the grazing of his meadows to avoid exhausting the land.

Delobel told Euronews that he has been closely following the current discussions in the European Parliament on the Nature Restoration Act, which sets out legally-binding targets in seven specific topics, from pollinating insects to marine ecosystems, that put together should cover at least 20% of the EU's land and sea areas by 2030.

According to the Commission, 81% of European habitats are in poor status, with peatlands, grasslands and dunes hit the worst.

The Belgian farmer said he supports these climate ambitions, but has some doubts.

"Our reservations are clearly about the idea of separating areas with intensive production on the one hand and other areas where nothing more can be done or which are solely dedicated to nature conservation, preservation," Delobel told Euronews.

"That's absolutely not our model. It's really about integrating insects, trees and hedgerows into agricultural and food-producing ecosystems, giving them a place and a role to play in food production and in the healthy, sustainable supply of our food."

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