Lawmakers in the European Parliament and the Council announced that they have reached a provisional agreement on new legislation aimed at restoring and protecting natural habitats and ecosystems, including a mandatory target for EU countries to implement measures to restore at least 20% of to restore the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030, and for all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050.
The agreement follows a controversial process for the new Nature Recovery Act, which was initially proposed by the European Commission in June 2022 as a key element of the European Green Deal and the EU Biodiversity Strategy, and addresses the finding that more than 80% of European habitats are in bad shape.
Although the European Council reached an agreed negotiating position on the new law in June 2023, the proposal narrowly survived a rejection vote in Parliament in July, following concerns that the proposals would threaten food security and agriculture, and would work against Europe’s clean energy and economy. climate objectives, by reducing the capacity of energy sources such as hydropower and biomass.
Under the new agreement reached by the Council and Parliament, Member States will be obliged to take restorative measures to restore at least 30% of habitats in poor condition by 2030, rising to 60% by 2040 and 90% by 2050. and to regularly submit national recovery plans indicating how they will achieve the objectives.
The law sets specific requirements for different types of ecosystems, including wetlands, grasslands, forests, rivers and lakes, as well as marine ecosystems such as seagrass, sponge and coral beds.
Additional regulations under the agreement include a requirement for Member States to adopt measures to address the decline of pollinator populations, implement restoration measures for agricultural organic soils that form drained peatlands, which is considered one of the most cost-effective measures to reduce emissions in the agricultural sector and improve biodiversity, an effort-based requirement to prevent significant degradation of areas in need of restoration that have been restored to good condition, and an agreement to ensure that Member States must realize an increasing trend in urban green areas.
The agreement also included a new provision requiring the Commission to assess any gap between the financial needs for the recovery and available financing and to look for solutions to bridge the gap. In addition, lawmakers agreed on an ’emergency brake’ that will allow agricultural ecosystem targets to be suspended for up to one year in case of unforeseen events that could have serious consequences for food security.
Now that the provisional agreement has been reached, the proposal will be submitted to the Council and Parliament for formal approval. Member states must submit their first nature recovery plans within two years after the law comes into force.
Following the announced agreement, Maroš Šefčovič, Executive Vice-President for the European Green Deal, Interinstitutional Relations and Foresight, said:
“Today, after extensive dialogue and fruitful deliberations with the European Parliament and the Council, we have reached provisional agreement on the Nature Recovery Act – an important proposal under the European Green Deal and essential to achieve the EU’s ambitious objectives in the field of climate mitigation and adaptation. This also sends an important positive signal to our global partners in the run-up to COP28 and in the implementation of the Kunming-Montreal Biodiversity Agreement that we are taking our commitments seriously. I hope for a swift approval of the agreement by the co-legislators. There is no time to lose in restoring the nature on which our well-being and economies depend.”