Rejecting the Nature Restoration Act is a huge mistake

Spain's Minister of Environmental Transition, Teresa Ribera, called on EU countries to save the Nature Restoration Act.

In an interview for Euractiv she likened the rejection of the law to "killing Europe's capacity to invest in its own prosperity". According to Ribera, this was a "huge, huge, huge mistake".

Her remarks come as economic competitiveness looms as a key issue in debates in Brussels over the EU's political direction for 2024-2029.

Ribera is considered the most likely candidate for Spain's next European Commissioner.

Rejection of Hungary's position

In March, Hungary led a last-minute rebellion in the Council against the proposed Biodiversity Protection Act.

At a meeting of environment ministers on March 25, Hungarian Environment Minister Aniko Reisz pointed to Hungary's nature conservation activities as a justification for the need for a European-wide law.

Ribera rejected this argument, saying that while Hungary's efforts were "fantastic", common rules were still needed to "make us stronger".

More support for farmers

When asked if she was inclined to renegotiate the dossier to ensure its adoption into law, Ribera stressed that both environment ministers and MPs had already reached an agreement on the text in the European Parliament.

The Spanish minister underlined his willingness to provide "support to those who fear the transition", acknowledging that for farmers, efforts to protect the climate and nature mean "very big and intense changes in a very short period of time".

Civil society must fight for the climate

Ribera also expressed his concern that "society and youth are giving up on the climate battle because they don't trust the institutions."

She called on civil society to "fight for committed governments and committed institutions on climate."

Ribera also said that the "populist actions" of the center-right leaders of Belgium, Poland and the European Commission were an attempt to "distract attention from the structural deficits of agricultural policy".

There is no change in the Council's position

While supporters of the Nature Recovery Act are rallying, there is still no sign of change among national governments.

During a speech on April 12 to mark the midpoint of Belgium's presidency of the Council, the country's Prime Minister Alexandre De Croix did not mention the law but pledged "unwavering support" for European farmers.

More details have also emerged about the scale of opposition to the law among national governments.

Belgian media reported that before Hungary changed its position, Swedish Rural Affairs Minister Peter Kulgren wrote to several countries' environment ministers calling for the dossier to be rejected.