What’s next for the Green Deal?
AWhen the European Commission presented its “Law on the Restoration of Nature” in June 2022, nobody would have expected that this proposal of all things would represent a turning point in EU climate policy. On Tuesday, however, the Agriculture Committee European Parliament rejected the proposal with a large majority and thus initiated the end of the so-called Von der Leyen coalition on the Green Deal.
Driven by the Christian Democrat EPP Group, a large part of the Liberals also opposed the law. The two right-wing factions ECR and ID are against it anyway. That was the majority that was needed. Without the EPP given the majority in the EU Parliament, no politics can be made.
This is not the end of the nature conservation law. In mid-June, the lead environmental committee votes, and it can overrule the votes of colleagues from the other committees. The chairman of the environment committee, the French liberal Pascal Canfin, is determined to collect enough votes in his own ranks and among the Christian Democrats for a majority in the coming weeks. Even if that succeeds, that will no longer change the fact that the Green Deal will be in Parliament a year before the next European election is no longer a sure-fire success.
20 percent of the area renatured
This has little to do with the content of the law in question. It should EU commit to renaturing 20 percent of the area – whether on land or in the water. In this way, the EU should make its contribution to the global biodiversity goals agreed in 2022. When the Commission presented its proposal, there was hardly any criticism. Now, however, EPP deputies, such as the chairman of the Agriculture Committee, Norbert Lins (CDU), are warning that the EU is endangering farmers’ livelihoods and promoting hunger in the world with the renaturation law and its proposals for reducing the use of pesticides. It also slows down the urgently needed expansion of renewable energies. As a look at the proposal shows, this is at least largely wrong. But that’s not the point. The EPP wants to set an example, as many MPs admit behind closed doors.
Before the committee vote, Lins justified his opposition to the law by “looking at the crying farmer’s faces” and “experiencing dramatic situations” when he was recently in the Netherlands. Which draws attention to why the EPP – largely at the instigation of its party and parliamentary group leader in the European Parliament Manfred Weber (CSU), as it is said – has decided to terminate the Green Deal. They are the results of the recent elections in the Netherlands, in the German state elections, in Italy, in Sweden and in Finland.
It is the victory of the farmer-citizen movement BBB after protests against strict nitrogen limits in the Dutch provincial elections. It is the realization that many citizens feel overwhelmed by the climate protection laws of the EU and the states, that there is a gap between inner cities and rural regions. “From a roof terrace in Berlin-Prenzlauer Berg, Stuttgart-Birkach, Brussels-Woluwe-Saint-Lambert or Cologne-Ehrenfeld, you can easily make specifications for rural areas,” Lins and his party colleague Peter Liese described in a joint paper. However, implementation on site is sometimes difficult or even impossible. If Canfin, the Greens and the Vice President responsible in the Commission Frans Timmermans So to accuse the EPP of shooting the law out of election tactical considerations is at least not entirely wrong.