Commission proposes “pioneering” package for nature restoration  

24 June 2022

On Wednesday, European Commissioners for the European Green Deal, Frans Timmermans, and for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius, presented the Commission’s latest legislative package under the European Green Deal: far-reaching proposals to restore nature by 2050 and cut Europe’s pesticide use in half by the end of the decade. 

The new proposals follow the Commission’s 2021 Biodiversity and Farm to Fork Strategies and are aimed to help ensure the resilience and security of food supply in the EU and across the world, particularly in light of the dawning global food crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine. 

Chief among that package is, the “first-ever” legislation that explicitly targets the restoration of Europe’s nature. According to the Commission, its ambitious new “Nature Restoration Law” will repair some 80% of European habitats that are currently in poor condition, and restore nature to all ecosystems, from forest and agricultural land to marine, freshwater and urban ecosystems. 

Under the proposal, legally binding targets for nature restoration in different ecosystems will apply to every Member State, complementing existing laws. The aim is to cover at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030 with nature restoration measures, and eventually extend these to all ecosystems in need of restoration by 2050. It will do so by “scaling up” existing measures such as rewilding, returning trees, greening cities and infrastructure, or removing pollution to allow nature to recover.

In addition, the package also put forward new rules to reduce the use of chemical pesticides and ensure more sustainable food systems by 2030. The new rules will ban the use of pesticides in sensitive areas such as urban green areas and puts in place legally binding targets at EU and national level to reduce the use and the risk of chemical pesticides and the use of the more hazardous pesticides by 50% by 2030.

Speaking on the package’s announcement, Commissioner Sinkevičius argued that “every euro spent for restoration will bring us at least eight in return,” continuing that the Commission’s proposed law is a “first of its kind globally, and we hope that it can inspire high international commitment for the protection of biodiversity in the upcoming COP15.”