EU’s Nature Restoration law needs to find a balance between biodiversity and socioeconomic goals
Together with sister organizations from Holland and Germany, Confederation of Finnish Industries EK participated in a breakfast event in Strasbourg in May, hosted by Dutch Renew MEP Jan Huitema to discuss the planned Nature Restoration Regulation’s impact on businesses. The event was also attended by 6 other Renew and EPP MEPs from France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Denmark and Sweden.
In the Parliament, the draft regulation has run into trouble as some parties and MEPs are against it. Some MEPs have proposed to reject the proposal because, according to them, the nature conservation laws in many member countries have led to a “bureaucratic nightmare and a significant slowdown in construction permitting”.
On the other hand, the Member States are divided and some countries oppose the extension of the “ban on degrading nature” outside Natura 2000 areas because the requirement is in conflict with private property rights and land use rights. In addition, according to them, its actual monitoring and evaluation would be very challenging. There is also disagreement about the proposed goals for restoring marine ecosystems, increasing green areas in cities and restoring peatlands.
The discussion at the event was lively and the business community hoped that the regulation would take into account the following issues:
- Flexibility: When setting nature restoration goals, different characteristics of the Member States, such as population density and climatic conditions, must be taken into account.
- Legal clarity: the proposal contains vague definitions and abstract terminology that leaves room for interpretation, such as “good condition”, “favorable reference area”, “adequate habitat quality” and “adequate amount of habitat”. This makes it difficult to properly examine the effects of the proposal and its legal implications.
- Urban ecosystems: the goal of increasing urban green areas in Article 6 is good. However, the article does not take into account the different conditions in different EU Member States and on the contrary be harmful for the sustainable development of regions and municipalities. Instead of just looking at the percentages of green space the focus should genuinely be on biodiversity and cities with a lack of green space.
- Access to legal protection: Article 16 provides access to legal protection for citizens. Citizens must have legal protection in environmental matters. However, the article seems unnecessary, as part of the Aarhus Convention, Member States are already obliged to ensure that citizens have legal remedies in environmental matters within their national legal systems.