Belgian parties debate and vote on Nature Restoration Law
Today, Belgian parties will debate and vote on the Nature Restoration Law presented by the Swedish EU Presidency last Friday. This debate could be decisive, as there is still no majority in all member states at the European level, with many abstentions.
Friday, European Environment ministers received a new text. "The Presidency has listened to the concerns expressed by delegations and has done its utmost to take account of specific national circumstances," the new proposal read. The text contains several concessions and addresses some of the concerns expressed by Belgium. For example, the flexibility of member states has been recognised.
"Anyone who still thinks that this is not enough is not being sincere," said Petra De Sutter (Greens), who, as deputy prime minister, is co-chairing the negotiations at the Belgian level. The Walloon Environment minister, Céline Tellier (Ecolo), also supports the Swedish proposal: "The basic objectives of the law remain intact and form the basis of a sound environmental policy, given the urgency of what is at stake."
The concessions in the text could also convince the Flemish government. Flemish Environment Minister Zuhal Demir has been appointed to negotiate on behalf of the Flemish government at the Belgian level. Clarifications are still needed, it seems.
The Christian Democrats and Liberals also appear to have room for negotiation. The latter also say they will raise their concerns at the EU Council on Tuesday, where Flemish minister Demir will represent Belgium. In the past, the minister has repeatedly refused to take part in these European environment and climate talks. Belgium often does not vote at these consultations because member states cannot reach a unified position. It remains to be seen whether this will be the case today.
Other member states are also still considering the Nature Restoration Law. Germany's green environment minister, for example, is not yet on board, nor is Italy. The legislation also remains in limbo in the European Parliament. On Wednesday it survived a vote in the Environment Committee. An attempt by the Christian Democrat group EVP to get rid of it was narrowly defeated, and then the meeting was suspended and the vote postponed.
© BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT