15 June 2023
The European Right’s reign of terror
15 June 2023
It is tough being a right-wing MEP in Brussels these days
Ignoring the multiplication of extreme weather events and disregarding ever more alarming scientific reports, the conservative right-wing EPP group (where the French MEPs “Les Républicains” sit) has taken a hard stance against the Nature Restoration Law proposal, to the point of creating a climate of terror directed at its MEPs who dare to defy the Presidency’s inflexible voting instructions.
Behind this unprecedented attack on a vital text for nature and the climate is a major political maneuver at play in the run-up to next year’s European elections. The Right’s strategy consists of, on the one hand, using this text to wage a full-scale attack to conquer the future European Commission by inflicting a crushing defeat on the Vice-President of the European Commission, the socialist Frans Timmermans. On the other hand, the Right tends to the clientelist electoral interests of conventional European farmers by defending the “old world” ways (intensive monocultures, subsidies, pesticides, portrayal of nature as an enemy to be mastered, etc.).
The Right did not deviate from its original line
A year ago, the European Right had affirmed its staunch opposition to the Nature Restoration Law before the European Commission had even released its legislative proposal. See the EPP press release castigating this legislation, which allegedly “reduce[s] European food production“. A weak line of argument, debunked by objective facts and scientific research, but the EPP needs a pretext to defend its indefensible positions.
As early as December 2022 and January 2023, EPP MEPs tabled a series of amendments aimed at rejecting the Nature Restoration Law and at nipping this legislation in the bud during the votes in the Agriculture, Fisheries and Environment Committees. In a European Parliament dedicated to compromise and negotiation, this parliamentary strategy is of unprecedented brutality.
Threats of reprisals from the EPP
In recent weeks, the EPP’s war on any ecological ambition has reached a whole new level with the orchestration of a climate of terror and a witch-hunt within the group. Their strategies seek to impose inflexible voting instructions on anyone who dares to deviate from its leadership’s political line established a year ago. A method unworthy of European democracies.
- Threats of expulsion directed at rebellious MEPs, officially denied by the parliamentary group’s Chairman Manfred Weber, but confirmed by all our contacts within the EPP. Some fear that a simple abstention could lead to their ousting – a serious threat in the run-up to the European elections.
- Attempts at dissent nipped in the bud, such as for Czech MEP Stanislav Polčák, who announced on Twitter on Monday June 12 at 4:00 pm his intention to adopt the Nature Restoration Law, before backtracking 24 hours later, explaining on Tuesday June 13 at 7:00 pm that “as my position has become so fundamentally contrary to that of my group, I have asked to be substituted at Thursday’s vote in ENVI“.
- A large-scale game of musical chairs orchestrated by the EPP leadership, confirmed by the press and our contacts, to ensure that any MEP reluctant to the idea of having to justify a vote against the protection of biodiversity is replaced by an MEP determined to implement a resolutely anti-ecological policy.
- Pressure on MEPs from ministers in right-wing governments in the same political family (confirmed by our contacts), or from their political party’s national president, such as the French president of “Les Républicains” Éric Ciotti, who was in Strasbourg on Wednesday June 14, and who reminded the political group’s French MEPs to stick to party lines, just like when they rejected François-Xavier Bellamy’s Nature Restoration Law in the Fisheries Commission on May 24.
The European right’s revenge against Frans Timmermans
These particularly brutal maneuvers seek to destroy any possible adoption of the Nature Restoration Law during the vote in the Environment Committee, following the Agriculture and Fisheries Committees’ track. This attack is also waged by EPP members against European Commissioner Frans Timmermans to force him to withdraw his text and weaken his position ahead of the major battle for the European Commission, which has already begun one year before the elections.
At the end of May, the far-Right, the Right and the liberals sealed a toxic alliance in the Agriculture (May 23) and Fisheries (May 24) Committees, rejecting the Nature Restoration Law entirely. This enabled the EPP to call on European Commissioner Frans Timmermans to blatantly withdraw his legislative proposal on nature restoration.
The alliance of the far-Right, the conservative Right, and the liberals in favor of climate chaos
The Nature Restoration Law’s parliamentary process illustrates the blind and unrelenting determination of liberal, right-wing, and far-right parties to torpedo any legislation aimed at changing the status quo and at attempting to respond to the already ravaging environmental crisis.
A squandered historic opportunity
The Nature Restoration Law represents a historic opportunity. Following the Habitats and Birds Natura 2000 directives dating from 1992 and 2009, this legislation finally enables the European Union to set itself binding targets to restore degraded ecosystems. The goal? Restore a minimum of 20% of European lands and waters by 2030, and all degraded ecosystems by 2050.
To ensure the adoption of immediately applicable measures, BLOOM is mobilized to ensure that the political groups we call “Earth Champions” in virtue of their ecological performance during the current term of office, table ambitious amendments to protect and restore the ocean. The future of humanity, the climate and of European marine ecosystems and habitats depend on it.