A key vote in Strasbourg has kept hopes alive for the livelihoods of millions of workers and the wellbeing of the planet. On 15 June, the European Parliament’s Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) committee voted on the draft Nature Restoration Law. In a rare tied vote, Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) voted down efforts by conservative, far-right and some liberal MEPs to reject the landmark law. 

“We celebrate the fact that MEPs have voted down attempts to kill the law before it even went to plenary. Now the fight continues – we need to stop right wing attacks on nature when we need it most,” said Tatiana Nuño, Senior Marine Policy Officer at Seas At Risk. 

Led primarily by the European People’s Party (EPP) and its chair, German MEP Manfred Weber, conservatives launched a fake news campaign that targeted the proposed regulation and spread disinformation through the committee. Their populist arguments have been widely criticised by businesses, scientists, civil society organisations and the public who cite the overwhelming proof that nature restoration is vital if the EU wants to protect the jobs of fishers and farmers, foster sustainable tourism and coastal economies, preserve food systems, and fight climate change. 

“The Nature Restoration Law is key to fighting climate change, protecting biodiversity and securing the future of Europe’s fishers,” Nuño added. This is a small but sure first step by the ENVI committee towards restoring marine life and ecosystems across Europe.  

MEPs have started the arduous process of voting on the over-200 pages of amendments to the law. The majority of votes were rejected due to results being tied 44-44, so every vote will count to get a strong Nature Restoration Law over the line. After a contentious lead-up brimming with fake news crusades, public protests and failed compromises, the Nature Restoration Law is inching forward: on 27 June, the ENVI committee will meet again – in Brussels – to finish voting on hundreds of amendments and the final report before it is voted on by the whole European Parliament later this summer. 

“Today’s close but unresolved vote in the Environment Committee is a reassuring message that a narrow majority of progressive MEPs oppose the rejection of the Nature Restoration Law, defeating the toxic misinformation campaign run by conservative parties,” said Nicolas Fournier, Campaign Director for Marine Protection at Oceana in Europe said.  

“We urge these MEPs, sensitive to understanding that the prosperity of society depends on the quality of the environment, to speak up for nature when Parliament concludes the vote at the end of the month and make legacy in the run-up to the 2024 EU elections,” he added.