A major setback for European Commissioner Frans Timmermans and his proposal to restore nature: Belgian Prime Minister De Croo was the first head of government to explicitly oppose it.
On the Belgian TV show To an extent, to a degree “The pause button must be pressed at the European level,” the prime minister said on Tuesday evening. According to him, the EU countries should give priority to combating climate change and reducing greenhouse gas emissions. This is the priority and there is a danger that the new rules of nature will make this struggle even more difficult. Europe has to watch out for lasagna rules, which make it hard to invest. (…]We must not overload the cart. ”
European Commissioner Frans Timmermans stressed on Monday that restoring nature and fighting climate change go hand in hand. Both are part of the so-called Green Deal: the broad package of measures the European Union is implementing to become a sustainable economy. Timmermans said that when restoring nature and energy transition conflicts, for example with building wind turbines at sea, energy transition will take priority, as simply stated in the European Commission’s proposal.
What is the Wildlife Restoration Act?
The proposed Nature Restoration Act includes measures to improve soil quality and halt the decline of insect species that pollinate crops. The European Commission came up with this because Europe’s biodiversity has been declining for years. She points out that agriculture and our food supply are highly dependent on nature. More than 75 percent of crops depend on pollinators, such as bees, bumblebees, and flies that fly from flower to flower, transferring pollen to the pistil. Which makes it bear fruit. It is exactly those insects that are dying now.
However, opponents fear new regulations, while existing laws of nature are already difficult to implement. Watch The Nitrogen Problem in the Netherlands. Holland has been calling attention to this for weeks. But where Minister Van der Waal (Nitrogen) is committed to amending the proposals, the Prime Minister of Belgium is now saying bluntly that they have to leave the table altogether for the time being.
De Croo’s remarks caused a stir in his country. The Greens coalition partner is furious that the prime minister has taken a stand without any prior consultation. “This is not the government’s line,” said Federal Environment Minister Zakia Al-Khattabi (Ekolo). Nadia Nagy, one of the party’s two deputies, even called the prime minister’s remarks “outrageous” on Twitter. You write: nature and climate go hand in hand. Instead of hitting the pause button, just speed up.”
Then there are the Flemish and Walloon governments. In Belgium, the federal government may take a position on many issues only if the governments of Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels region agree. Several times in recent years, the representative of Belgium has had to sit on his hands during European meetings.
Walloon Environment Minister Celine Teller (of the Green party “Echolo”): “I fell off my chair. This is not Belgium’s position. This law is important. We still have a few weeks to reach a Belgian consensus. De Croo should not question a single law, Rather, it is in the entirety of European climate policy. Simply pressing the pause button on this law is neither meat nor fish,” she said in a written response to the radio broadcast. “If De Croo really wants to portray himself as a great leader, he will join Macron and me and call for verification reality for the entire European climate policy.” Earlier, French President Macron had called for such a pause, but then said he had been misunderstood.
On Tuesday, the European Parliament’s Agriculture Committee voted against the proposed law. Today’s Committee on Fisheries followed: also against. But the leader on this topic is the Environment Committee, which will vote on June 15. Then it was the turn of the entire parliament, and if the law was still valid, negotiations with the twenty-seven member states would follow.
For Frans Timmermans, it is perhaps the toughest opposition he has faced since introducing his green plan in 2020. Earlier this year, Germany flipped against an agreement at the last minute to restrict the sale of new passenger cars with an internal combustion engine, also part of the green deal. But there was great discontent with this in most other countries and in Parliament, and a compromise could be reached in a few weeks. This seems to be out of sight for the Nature Restoration Act.
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