How will Environment Committee vote on Nature Restoration Law?

The Nature Restoration Law is in a perilous place at present. Having been rejected by two relevant Committees in the European Parliament outright, all eyes are on the Committee leading on the file – the Environment Committee, or ENVI. Oliver Moore with a brief explainer of the current state of affairs. 

Current Overall State of Play

The Nature Restoration Law (NRL) is under severe strain, with a key vote coming up on 15th June in the Environment Committee in the European Parliament. If it does not survive this vote, it is very unlikely that the NRL will even make it to a full vote of all the Parliament’s MEPs – the plenary vote.

And after this, should it be passed at plenary, there’s a process involving both the Parliament and the Council of Ministers negotiating towards a final Law.

Indications from national ministers and prime ministers vary – Belgium and France have seen government heads call for a delay, whereas in Ireland there have been mixed signals – first for pause, later for progress. The Council of Ministers adopts a position at its meeting in Luxembourg on 20th June.

There is then an inter-institutional process throughout the remainder of 2023, between co-legislators the Parliament and Council, before the Nature Restoration Law would potentially come into force in 2024.

Current State of Play in the European Parliament

Within the Parliament, votes in the Agricultural and Rural (AGRI) and Marine (PECH) Committees have seen unexpected proposals to outright reject the NRL passed.

In the case of AGRI, a huge number of amendments to radically reduce the scale and impact of the NRL were already negotiated and then tabled by political groups. In particular an alliance between the centre-right EPP and the further right ID (Identity and Democracy) and ECR (European Conservatives and Reformists) groups, joined occasionally by the centre-left S&D (Socialists and Democrats) and liberal RE (Renew), saw the Left and Green groups largely isolated in a huge number of environmentally regressive amendments. See all AGRI amendments in our previous article.

Agri MEPs Vote to Reject the Nature Restoration Law – what’s next?

And yet even these compromises were not enough. By a large margin – 30 to 16 – the AGRI Committee voted to completely reject the NRL. Soon after, PECH voted by a much smaller margin – 15 to 13 – to also reject outright the NRL. (see how all MEPs  voted in the twitter thread below)

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Now the Environment Committee (ENVI) must vote, likely 15th June. As ENVI is the lead on the whole file, if ENVI cannot agree at least to pass the NRL – with or without amendments – it is very unlikely any progress can be made. It will almost certainly not progress to Plenary.

While it will ostensibly go back to the Commission for re-writing, in reality this means the Nature restoration Law will fail to be progressed within the current institutional timeframe, which ends in 2024.

How is ENVI likely to Vote?

At least 45 MEPs from ENVI – there are 88 full members – are needed to retain the NRL – in other words, this many must vote against any proposal to scrap it. Here are all the MEPs in ENVI.

The groupings are expected or likely to vote in ENVI as follows:

Very likely to reject NRL
EPP – 22 MEPs; ECR – 8 MEPs; ID – 8 MEPs

Very likely to support NRL
Green – 10 MEPs; The Left – 6 MEPs

Likely to support NRL
Most or all of S&D – 18 MEPs

Mixed/undecided
Non-aligned MEPs – 4; RE – 12 MEPs

Both S&D and RE have voted more or less as a bloc in the two previous Committee votes. S&D voted in AGRI to retain NRL (so voting with the Greens and Left), while RE, surprisingly to many insiders, voted en masse to reject NRL. In PECH, one RE voted to retain while one voted to reject. S&D again voted with the Greens and the Left to retain.

Indications are that significant behind-the-scenes work is being done to retain the votes of S&D MEPs for the NRL.

Presuming S&D MEPs maintain their current voting patterns, the votes of 12 Renew (RE) and three non-aligned will decide whether the NRL can even get past its own proposing Committee and progress towards Plenary.

The pressure then, is on the non-aligned and the RE MEPs in particular. Typically there is what is seen as a working green-left-liberal majority in ENVI. But with the NRL, this is not certain anymore.

MEPs such as former Agriculture Commissioner Dacian Ciolos – a substitute on the ENVI committee and proposer of a very environmentally progressive CAP over a decade ago – will be instrumental in his Renew group in the days ahead.

All Renew MEPs on the ENVI Committee can be found here

Full text of the Nature Restoration Law, its annexes and the 12 part impact assessment can be found here.

More

Nature Restoration Law | Agri Committee’s Amendments Revealed – Reduced Targets, Increase Exemptions

EPP Attacks Pesticide Regulation & the Nature Restoration Law

Who’s Afraid of Nature? Restoration Law Under Pressure

Nature Restoration Law: A Chance for the EU to Make Good on the Green Deal

 

 

About Oliver Moore 208 Articles

Dr. Oliver Moore is the communications director and editor-in-chief with ARC2020. He has a PhD in the sociology of farming and food, where he specialised in organics and direct sales. He is published in the International Journal of Consumer Studies, International Journal of Agricultural Resources, Governance and Ecology and the Journal of Agriculture, Food Systems, and Community Development. A weekly columnist and contributor with Irish Examiner, he is a regular on Countrywide (Irish farm radio show on the national broadcaster RTE 1) and engages in other communications work around agri-food and rural issues, such as with the soil, permaculture, climate change adaptation and citizen science initiative Grow Observatory . He lectures part time in the Centre for Co-operative Studies UCC.

A propos d'Oliver Moore
Oliver voyage beaucoup moins qu’auparavant, pour ce qui concerne son activité professionnelle. Il peut néanmoins admirer par la fenêtre de son bureau les mésanges charbonnières et les corbeaux perchés au sommet du saule dans le jardin de sa maison au cœur de l’écovillage de Cloughjordan, en Irlande. L’écovillage est un site de 67 acres dans le nord du Tipperary. Il comprend d’espaces boisés, des paysages comestibles, des lieux de vie, d’habitation et de travail, ainsi qu’une ferme appartenant à la communauté. Les jours où il travaille dans le bureau du centre d’entreprise communautaire, il profite d’une vue sur les chevaux, les panneaux solaires, les toilettes sèches et les jardins familiaux. 

Ce bureau au sein de l’écovillage constitue en effet un tiers-lieu de travail accueillant également des collaborateurs des associations Cultivate et Ecolise, ainsi qu’un laboratoire de fabrication (« fab lab »). 

Oliver est membre du conseil d’administration de la ferme communautaire (pour la seconde fois !) et donne également des cours sur le Master en coopératives, agroalimentaire et développement durable à l’University College Cork. Il a une formation en sociologie rurale : son doctorat et les articles qu’il publie dans des journaux scientifiques portent sur ce domaine au sens large.

Il consacre la majorité de son temps de travail à l’ARC 2020. Il collabore avec ARC depuis 2013, date à laquelle l’Irlande a assuré la présidence de l’UE pendant six mois. C’est là qu’il a pu constater l’importance de la politique agroalimentaire et rurale grâce à sa chronique hebdomadaire sur le site d’ARC. Après six mois, il est nommé rédacteur en chef et responsable de la communication, poste qu’il occupe toujours aujourd’hui. Oliver supervise le contenu du site web et des médias sociaux, aide à définir l’orientation de l’organisation et parfois même rédige un article pour le site web. 

À l’époque où on voyageait davantage, il a eu la chance de passer du temps sous les tropiques, où il a aidé des ONG irlandaises de commerce équitable – au Ghana, au Kenya, au Mali, en Inde et au Salvador – à raconter leur histoire.

Il se peut que ces jours-là reviennent. Pour son compte Oliver continuera de préférer naviguer en Europe par bateau, puis en train. Après tout, la France n’est qu’à une nuit de navigation. En attendant, il y a toujours de nombreuses possibilités de bénévolat dans la communauté dans les campagnes du centre de l’Irlande.