Opposition to European nature restoration law is growing, Timmermans defends himself Yesterday, 20:58 in Abroad , Politics Today, European Commissioner Frans Timmermans was in the European Parliament to get more MEPs on board.

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Frans Timmermans
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The law still needs to be negotiated extensively, but the nature restoration law of European Commissioner Frans Timmermans can already count on a lot of resistance. The law aims to restore nature in the EU. According to the European Commission, 80 percent of nature in Europe is now in a bad state.

Opponents fear that the country will be further locked if this nature restoration law comes into effect. This afternoon Timmermans was in the European Parliament to convince MEPs of the need for this law. But what exactly is the law about?

According to Timmermans, it is important that the EU agrees on this law, because time is running out. “Last year, Europe saw the worst drought in decades. Farmers saw their harvest cut in half in many cases,” he said in the European Parliament.

Dutch resistance

In the Netherlands, there is considerable opposition to the law. The ban on deterioration in particular has generated a great deal of resistance. According to this part of the law, biodiversity in certain habitats and so-called habitat types may in any case not deteriorate further. All new activities in these areas, whether economic or agricultural, will then require a permit and the loss of nature must be compensated elsewhere.

There is disagreement about where the ban on deterioration will apply and how large that area is. According to an analysis by the Commission, most of the land, some 3,360 square kilometers, is already in the Natura 2000 area. In any case, there is already a prohibition against deterioration. Areas added by the new law do not exceed 198 square kilometers, according to the Commission.

But several politicians in Brussels and in the Netherlands are not comfortable with that. The House of Representatives recently passed a motion, submitted by Caroline van der Plas (BBB), stating that the Dutch cabinet should vote against this ban on deterioration.

Nature in De Maasduinen National Park. The forest and heathland has deteriorated due to drought and the deposition of nitrogen

Several MPs were in Brussels today to talk with Timmermans, among others, about the effects of the future law.

Van der Plas is somewhat reassured, because it is now clear to her that in the end the countries themselves will have to determine how they restore their own nature. Still, her worries are not completely gone. “My biggest concern is that once such a law is in place, the Netherlands will want to be even stricter on top of everything.”

Moreover, according to Van der Plas, that 198 square kilometers seems very little, but it can have major consequences and still lock the Netherlands.

Member of Parliament Thom van Campen (VVD) has also expressed his concerns to Timmermans and European Commissioner Sinkevicius (Environment). According to Van Campen, the impact of the law cannot yet be foreseen. “Not every country is the same. We live in a country where many people live and also want to continue producing food. Then you really have to look at what this means for the Netherlands.”

‘Seem to be talking past each other’

Timmermans emphasized several times today that it is up to the countries themselves to determine which measures should be taken. According to him, proponents and opponents seem to be talking past each other. He thinks it is important to point out that areas with such a deterioration ban may still contain companies and farmers and that there are also grounds for exceptions. It doesn’t mean that nothing is possible, he says.

In the Netherlands, nature organizations and ecologists are now advocating that the law should not be made too non-committal.

“We are still dangling somewhere at the bottom in the Netherlands in terms of nature conservation,” says ecologist and university lecturer Patrick Jansen. He is annoyed that there is again a discussion about the law. “Without legal protection, nature usually loses out, because short-term and economic interests take precedence.”

According to Jansen, the European law also largely corresponds to climate and nature recovery plans that already exist in the Netherlands. The big difference is that European laws are binding. “We do put our signature under the plans, but when push comes to shove, there is resistance.”

  • Abroad

  • Politics

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