State of the Union: Protecting nature and controlling big tech

Police behind a barrier look at a pile of potatoes dumped by protestors during a demonstration of farmers near the European Council
Police behind a barrier look at a pile of potatoes dumped by protestors during a demonstration of farmers near the European Council Copyright AP Photo/Geert Vanden Wijngaert
By Isabel Marques da Silva
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Farmers' protest and the postponement of the vote on the Nature Restoration Law showed, this week, how the European Green Deal can be a target of misunderstanding and contestation.

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What used to be an extraordinary exception now appears to have become an almost monthly tradition at the European Union headquarters in Brussels: hundreds of tractors on the streets and farmers resorting to sometimes violent actions.

This display of anger served to attract the attention of agriculture ministers, who were in the city this week to discuss new measures to respond to farmers' complaints over lost income and red tape.

Although farmers have already obtained concessions, such as the relaxation of some administrative and environmental rules, they want more financial help and are against the Nature Restoration Law.

The challenges facing the Green Deal

This legislation is an important part of the European Green Deal and aims to restore at least 20% of the European Union's degraded land and sea areas by 2030. The topic was on the agenda of environment ministers on Monday but the vote was postponed and there is no new date at this time.

To discuss how to get out of this impasse, we talked to  Faustine Bas-Defossez, Director of Nature, Health and Environment at the European Environment Office.

“The EU is the fastest warming continent and climate risks threaten its energy, food security and ecosystems. Now, it is important to underline that there was an agreement on the table, that there were months of negotiations between the Council and the European Parliament," she explained.

"What happened, unfortunately, was that, at the last minute, Hungary decided to change its position and therefore there was no longer a majority for the agreement. Now, it is important to say that it is not dead, and that in the coming weeks we very much hope may the majority be found," the analyst added.

Going after Big Tech?

The programme also highlights an important decision by the European Commission this week regarding the rights of consumers and large technology companies. 

The executive announced the opening of the first investigations under the Digital Markets Act, targeting Apple, Google and Meta.

We close with bittersweet news for Easter, one of the holidays in which chocolate consumption soars. But be careful, some products' prices increased by more than 50% compared to last year. 

Prices have soared as climate change has affected the cocoa crops in West Africa, where about three-quarters of the world's cocoa beans are produced.

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