A Pyrrhic victory for nature at the European Parliament

The result of the vote in the European Parliament on Nature Restoration Law brought a narrow victory for nature with important political implications. In her article at Oikonomikos Tachydromos, Ioli Christopoulou analyzes the result, mapping the positions of the political groups and the Greek MEPs, as well as important amendments that in practice weaken the original text of the European Commission.

Τhe Regulation won by a narrow majority of 324 votes to 312, despite the European People’s Party’s intense manipulations throughout the examination of the proposed Regulation by the European Parliament’s committees. The political groups of the Socialists, the Greens and the Left, part of the Liberals, some independent MEPs and some EPP MEPs who broke the group’s line, voted in favor of the Regulation. Of the Greek MEPs, only EPP MEPs supported the group’s position.

However, this optimistic result was followed by the approval of a number of amendments that weaken the European Commission’s original proposal. Ioli Christopoulou refers in particular to amendments adopted by the Council concerning exceptions to the application of the Regulation in the case of renewable energy and defense projects. Other amendments reflect the positions of the EPP, the most crucial being the rejection of the provision for the restoration of rural ecosystems, but also the delay in the implementation of the Regulation until the assessment of its impact on food security. Also, there were concessions on individual quantitative targets for restoration and non-degradation, and on the provision of resources, while the suspension of restoration measures in the event of exceptional socio-economic circumstances was also adopted.

The final position of the European Parliament was adopted by a majority of 336 votes to 300 votes against. As Ioli Christopoulou reports, in the final vote, members of the EPP, Conservatives, the Liberals and the far-right voted against, while members of the Socialists, the Greens, the Left, most members of the Liberals and those who broke the line of the EPP (21) and the Conservatives (5), along with some independents, voted in favor. The Greek MEPs maintained the position they had in the first vote with the exception of the independents from the Communist Party who sided with the rejection of the European Parliament’s final position.

Expecting the conclusion of the trilateral negotiations by the end of the year, Ioli Christopoulou comments on the intense polarisation caused by the EPP’s stance that relied on misinformation, and its consequences in the run-up to the European elections. She concludes that: “With the consequences of the climate crisis demanding the immediate implementation of measures, the path to a green transition should not be put up for debate. What Europe needs now is a race to implement the European Green Deal and complement it with more ambitious targets after 2024.”

The article titled “A Pyrrhic victory for nature at the European Parliament” was published on July 15, 2023 and it is available at ot.gr (in Greek).