Gewessler single-handedly in favor of renaturation law

On Sunday, Climate Protection Minister Leonore Gewessler declared that she would vote in favor of the highly controversial renaturation law, which has already been approved by the EU Parliament, at Monday's meeting of EU environment ministers. Now that Vienna has voted in favor of the law, the Austrian Environment Minister - against the opposition of coalition partner ÖVP - no longer sees herself bound by a veto from the federal states. 


"The time for determination has come. Hesitating now is not in my conscience," said Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler at a press conference on Sunday. If there is a vote in the EU Council on the renaturation law on Monday, "the Belgian Presidency can count on my yes", the Minister continued. "When I take my nephews and nieces for a walk in 20 to 30 years' time, I want to show them the beauty of the land." I can withstand the headwind," explained Gewessler, adding that she had backed up her approval with several legal opinions.

Where do we stand on the highly controversial EU renaturation law?

On the importance of the Renaturation Act

It is the central building block for implementing the EU Biodiversity Strategy and the centerpiece of the EU Green Deal. According to a European Council declaration, measures to restore nature are to be implemented on at least 30 percent of the EU's land and sea areas by 2030. The target is 60 percent by 2040 and as much as 90 percent by 2050.


The UN has also chosen the motto "We are #GenerationRestoration" for this year's World Environment Day to draw attention to the incredible importance of restoring lost habitats.

We Are #GenerationRestoration


Austria's consent possible

Until now, the Climate Protection Minister was bound by the unanimous rejection by the federal statesAt the latest with the decision of the Vienna state government on June 11 FOR the EU law, the state veto is no longer uniform. According to the renowned lawyer Daniel Ennöckl, Director of the Institute of Law at BOKU Vienna, the way is clear for the Environment Minister to give her approval as soon as a federal state officially withdraws from the blocking "uniform state position".

According to the Federal Constitutional Law (B-VG), it could then also approve the EU regulation without the consent of other ministries. Most recently, the ÖVP Minister of Agriculture also voted in favor of weakening environmental standards in the Common Agricultural Policy despite an objection from the Ministry of the Environment.


Vote on Monday in Luxembourg

Now that the Nature Restoration Law has already been passed by the EU Parliament, it needs the approval of the Council of the European Union, which is made up of the responsible ministers from the individual member states. This requires a so-called qualified majority: this consists of at least 55% of the member states, which also cover 65% of the total population in the EU. In order to achieve this, one of the EU member states that previously wanted to abstain or vote against would have to change its mind. "It's touch and go," Gewessler said of the current situation.


EU renaturation law passed by a narrow margin!

Majority of Austrians in favor of the law

According to a recent survey, 82% of the population are in favor of Austria's approval of the EU renaturation law. At the same time, more than two thirds consider it "unjustified" that several provincial governors want to prevent a Yes to the law. These are the findings of a representative survey conducted by the market Institute (1,000 online interviews) for the WWF.

According to the market survey, Austria's approval of the EU law is strongly supported across party lines - most strongly among sympathizers of the Greens, the SPÖ and the NEOS with well over 90% each (99%, 97% and 96% responded "definitely" and "rather" respectively). However, a majority of declared supporters of the ÖVP and FPÖ would also welcome Austria voting in favor of the EU law according to this survey (72% and 61% in total responded "definitely" and "rather" respectively).


Environmental protection organizations such as Global 200, WWF, Greenpeace and the Austrian Nature and Biodiversity Conservation Union are delighted with the Environment Minister's decision and our Scientific Advisory Board member Andreas Jäger also expressed his delight at the YES vote. We are keeping our fingers crossed that the law will finally be passed.