Press release

MEPs Approve Nature Restoration Law in Tense Vote

12th July 2023
Grace O'Sullivan and Ciaran Cuffe

The European Parliament has voted by a majority in favour of a revised Nature Restoration Law. MEPs defeated an attempt by the conservative EPP Group to reject the legislation outright by 324 votes to 312. The proposed law aims to return many of Europe’s damaged habitats and ecosystems to favourable status in the coming decades. The positive result triggers the final stage of negotiations between representatives of the EU countries, the European Parliament, and the European Commission.  

MEPs also voted in favour of a standalone EU fund to back the measures and aligned the Parliament’s position to that of a majority of EU governments. The revised position weakened some elements of the Commission’s original proposal but signals support for significant measures to protect and restore damaged habitats and ecosystems in Europe. 

Swedish climate campaigner Greta Thunberg joined Green MEPs for a demonstration at the European Parliament over the course of the week, saying that a vote against the Nature Restoration law would be a ‘betrayal’ of future generations. 

Following the vote in Strasbourg, Ireland South MEP Grace O’Sullivan said:

“We have successfully fought off an attack on nature from Manfred Weber and the EPP. All Irish MEPs voted in favour of the Nature Restoration Law and this is the direct result of having Greens in government and in the European Parliament. The Nature Restoration Law is now an inevitability and this is nothing short of a win for every person and place on the whole continent. We are all breathing a big sigh of relief today. Tomorrow we get back to work on negotiations with the Commission and Council.”

Dublin MEP Ciarán Cuffe said:

"Everyone one of us, no matter what side of the debate we fall on, are winners today. Each of us will benefit from increased food security, stronger economies, and greater protection from the impact of climate change that these measures to restore nature can provide. It is a testament to the resolve of pragmatic, progressive negotiators who were determined to save this law, and the sustained pressure placed on MEPs from the thousands of citizens, scientists, businesses, and NGOs who got in touch. We have heard their demands, and we are taking action."

The Nature Restoration Law proposes to restore at least 20% of all EU land and sea areas to favourable status by 2030 with specific targets for various ecosystems. The proposal had come under fire from Manfred Weber’s conservative EPP Group, who have sought to bury all new environmental legislation as they come under pressure from the far-right in some EU countries.

The legislation includes, among other measures, the restoration of all damaged  marine habitats (over 80% of which are in unfavourable status in Ireland), restrictions on shrinking urban green space, the voluntary rewetting of drained peatlands and the restoration of 25,000km of blocked rivers to free-flowing status. 

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