WWF encourages Belgium to 'rejoin supporting countries' on EU nature law

"Shame on you, Belgium," environmental organisation WWF Belgium said after Belgian environment ministers were unable to agree on the country's support for the European nature restoration law, meaning the country abstained during a vote on Tuesday. A majority of European environment ministers approved Sweden's compromise text.

WWF calls the Belgian failure to come to an agreement "particularly unfortunate, all the more so because Flemish minister for the Environment Zuhal Demir [who represented Belgium at the council] seemed to claim only last Friday that the text before us was moving in the right direction."

As a federal state, Belgium has ministers for the environment in all three of its regional governments - Flanders, Wallonia and the Brussels Capital Region - as well as in the federal government. Wallonia and Brussels fully support the European nature restoration law, but the Flemish government has voiced concerns about the possible socioeconomic impact of the law on densely populated Flanders.

"In six months, Belgium evolved from favouring the law to abstaining"

After Tuesday's vote, during which a majority of European environment ministers approved the proposal, WWF spoke of an important signal to MEPs, who are due to consider the proposal in mid-July. The Belgian position is all the more disappointing as Belgium spoke out ambitiously in favour of the Nature Restoration Act at last December's EU Environment Council, it says. "In six months, Belgium evolved from favouring the law to abstaining. During the numerous dialogues that follow, we encourage Belgium to rejoin the supporting countries and co-adopt an ambitious nature restoration law."

Even more than other member states, Belgium needs a nature restoration law as it is "the worst student in Europe" on natural habitat conservation, WWF argues.



Flemish minister for the Environment Zuhal Demir © BELGA PHOTO HATIM KAGHAT

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