Pushing for an ambitious Nature Restoration Law in EU inter-institutional negotiations

Home » News & Insights » Pushing for an ambitious Nature Restoration Law in EU inter-institutional negotiations

On October 5th, the Nature Restoration Law was discussed in Trilogue, the inter-institutional setting where the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the Council of the EU negotiate their positions to find a compromise on the final legislation. These negotiations are crucial and will determine the level of ambition on hot topics such as the restoration of ecosystems in and outside Natura 2000, or of peatlands.  

With the Nature Restoration Law, the Commission proposed a legislation that forms a key element of the EUs biodiversity strategy and sets binding targets to restore degraded ecosystem. The proposed legislation is a key component of the European Green Deal, necessary to deliver on its biodiversity and climate commitments. Wetlands International Europe has welcomed the European proposal, but has been calling for ambitious restoration targets for wetlands, particularly as the legislation has been facing pushback.

A first meeting of the Nature Restoration Law Trilogue was held in July 2023. Now, concrete negotiations have started with the October 5th meeting, and another meeting is planned for  November 7th 

Three proposals are on the table, each supported by one institution. While the Commission’s initial proposal offered a satisfactory level of ambition, the Parliament’s proposal is problematic for key ecosystems such as peatlands and other terrestrial habitats. The Council’s stance, despite taking up various elements of the initial proposal, requires improvement to close loopholes granted to Member States or to delay the application of the legislation.  

While agreement should be found more easily between the Parliament and the Commission on certain aspects of the legislation, such as the river restoration targets (Article 7), or making progress on a compromise for the restoration of pollinator populations (Article 8), other key topics still require negotiation. Especially provisions relating to the restoration of agricultural ecosystems (Article 9), will be a fiercely contested point, since opposition was raised against it on the alleged grounds of food security. However, various evidence has shown these claims to be unfounded (see for instance our Questions & Answers on peatlands rewetting, an Arc2020 article explaining why the argument that 10% of agricultural land will be rendered unproductive under NRL is erroneous; a long FAQ developed by the #RestoreNature campaign, etc.). 

The Nature Restoration Law has the potential to be a landmark legislation for Europe and preserve nature, and civil society has mobilised for the adoption of a robust Nature Restoration Law. The #RestoreNature campaign, which Wetlands International Europe is part of, is a broad collaboration from around 200 organisations that supports an ambitious Nature Restoration Law. In September 2023, a joint statement was launched to point out the urgency to adopt swiftly an ambitious Nature Restoration Law. This collective voice sends a clear message to decision-makers to pass an ambitious legislation. 

One month later, in October 2023, with the Power to the Peatlands Conference, the biggest gathering of peatland experts and enthusiasts so far, took place in Antwerp. At this conference, a joint declaration was signed by more than hundred organisations and institutions. This declaration sends a strong signal to policy makers to adopt science-based decisions as it stresses the importance to include strong peatlands restoration targets in the final legislation of the Nature Restoration Law. 

Only if we rewet and restore peatlands, we can reach the aims for carbon neutrality in 2050 and face the challenges of climate crisis. 

Whether the demands of scientists, civil society and concerned citizens will be heard in the negotiations should become clear after the next Trilogue on November 7th, potentially the last. Compromises will have to be found between the three institutions.