The only concrete opportunity to protect nature threatened by the European right

One year ago today, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres said that the latest IPCC report was an ‘atlas of human suffering and a damning indictment of failed climate leadership’. What is unfolding in the European Parliament is a disturbing illustration of this.

In June 2022, the European Commission proposed a European regulation called the ‘Nature Restoration Law'(1) to the Parliament and the Council. This regulation is the last opportunity before the 2024 European elections to implement the existential measures that biodiversity and climate experts are calling for in order to halt the collapse of living species on Earth and the increase of climate disasters – droughts, heat waves, cyclones, fires, floods – linked to rising temperatures and rising sea levels.

But in a week’s time, on 9 March, a small number of MEPs on the European Parliament’s ‘Committee on the Environment’ (ENVI) will meet with the text’s rapporteur, Spanish Socialist Cesar Luena, to decide which of the 2,000 or so amendments they will remove. 

The European right, allied with the far right, has already warned that it will seek to ‘kill the text’ so that nothing ambitious comes out of the legislative process. Preparatory documents for the 9 March meeting indicate that these negotiations are at high risk for the ocean: for the moment, all the amendments that carry a real ambition for the protection of marine ecosystems and would put an end to the ravages of industrial fishing, recognized as the first cause of ocean destruction by the IPBES, notably the amendments tabled by Green MEPs (Marie Toussaint and Yannick Jadot) and Left GUE/NGL MEPs (Anja Hazekamp, Marine Mesure and Younous Omarjee), have disappeared from view. The meeting on 9 March will test the rapporteur Cesar Luena in a left-right tug of war that will upset those who like to think that ecology is ‘neither left nor right’.

The group that will tip the balance – or not – in favor of environmental and climate protection and thus the stability of living conditions on Earth, will be Emmanuel Macron’s group in the European Parliament: the ‘Renew’ (Renaissance) group. The ‘Nature Restoration Law’ promises to offer a real moment of political clarification which will allow a clear possibility to separate actions from words. BLOOM will be following these votes closely.

All the dirty tricks are to be expected from the lobbies and their political spokespeople: blackmailing about job losses, blocking of amendments, shifting of timetables to postpone the adoption and therefore the entry into force of the regulation, transformation of its status to make it only a ‘directive’ and not a regulation, since a directive must then be transposed into national law by the Member States, etc. Many political tricks which Brussels has a sad habit of being used to. The objective of the European right and far right is to deprive one of the pillar texts for the implementation of the ‘EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030’(2) of all substance, and to form a front to ultimately reject the text as a whole. This is the atmosphere that accompanies this legislative proposal and the forthcoming votes in the Parliament’s Committee on Fisheries (a predicted carnage, as is often the case in this tiny committee biased in favor of industrial lobbies)(3) and in the Committee on the Environment.

A year before the next European elections, the draft EU regulation on ‘Nature Restoration’ was presented in June 2022 by the European Commission as a historic opportunity to start restoring Europe’s depleted terrestrial and marine ecosystems, ‘in particular those with the most potential to capture and store carbon and to prevent and reduce the impact of natural disasters’.(4) This draft regulation is the last chance for this legislature to put an end to the methodical destruction of ecosystems and the seabed by a highly efficient industrial fishing fleet.

Adopting an ambitious European regulation on nature restoration is a vital emergency for the ocean, which absorbs almost a third of the CO2 emitted by humans and forms, via marine organisms and sediments, the world’s largest carbon sink. Today, marine biodiversity is depleted and must be protected from unbridled industrial exploitation, which is engaged in a blind race for gigantism and technological innovation and leading not only climate ecosystems but also small-scale fishing to bankruptcy.

French Parliamentarians Marie Toussaint, Yannick Jadot, Marine Mesure and Younous Omarjee have tabled a series of amendments to ensure that this bill marks a real turning point in the protection and restoration of marine ecosystems. These amendments take up the recommendations of scientists in order to respond to the environmental emergency, set a time frame, establish clear criteria for the protection of ecosystems and commit the sector to a transition to artisanal fishing that provides jobs and respects the environment.

The Greens/EFA and Left GUE/NGL amendments specifically propose:

  • to define the activities that should be prohibited so that Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) are truly ‘protected’;
  • to reserve the 12 nautical mile coastal waters for the exclusive use of vessels of less than 25 meters in order to put an end to the destruction of fishing communities along Europe’s coastline and to remove giant monsters such as pelagic trawlers of up to 140 meters long;
  • and to ban destructive fishing methods such as fish aggregating devices (FADs) or demersal seining, a form of technology-enhanced bottom trawling.


While the IPCC and IPBES warnings are becoming more pressing every day, when all indicators have turned red, it would be inconceivable for the rapporteur Cesar Luena to give in to the injunctions of the right wing, which is using all the typical bad faith arguments to ensure nothing changes in our predatory resource model, even though it is leading humanity to the brink of collapse.

MEPs aware of the climate chaos and of the collapse of biodiversity must mobilize forcefully alongside the rapporteur Cesar Luena to denounce the delaying tactics of those who are blind to the environmental emergency and who aim to torpedo this text or empty it of substance. It is vital to reject any compromise that would prevent political institutions from working for the future of ecosystems that are currently in a state of collapse.

The choices made today impact the whole of humanity.




(3) The European Parliament PECH Committee is composed of 28 MEPs and 24 alternates with a predominant – and well-known track record of – bias in favor of industrial fishing lobbies. See the numerous analyses of the Fisheries Committee votes on the BLOOM website.


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