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EU’s last-ditch bid to pass nature law sputters

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After weeks and weeks of negotiations, there is still not enough support for EU governments to approve a long-delayed nature restoration law on Monday, as planned, two EU diplomats told POLITICO.

The final hope appears to be that environment ministers can produce a last-minute twist of fate when they meet on Monday.

The ministers will discuss the bill — which aims to rehab Europe’s degraded landscapes — one more time “with a view to adopt it,” according to one of the diplomats.

Yet the two diplomats confirmed the bill remains in limbo for now. The measure needs a qualified majority to pass, representing at least 55 percent of EU countries and 65 percent of the bloc’s population.

The legislation, a key part of the EU Green Deal, has come under fire from farmers’ organizations and conservative politicians, who argue it adds too many onerous requirements for businesses. The bill would set a goal to restore at least 20 percent of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030. Its ambitions have already been watered down during negotiations.

In February, the European Parliament narrowly signed off on a deal it had reached with EU governments over the bill. But now, those EU governments are dithering over rubber-stamping the agreement themselves. In March, Hungary changed its position at the last minute, which froze the bill’s progress.

It’s now unclear whether Belgium, which currently holds the rotating presidency of the Council of the EU and is in charge of steering the talks, can rally enough support by Monday.

According to a Council document dated June 11, Italy, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Finland and Sweden will oppose the bill and Austria will abstain. Belgium is also abstaining because of disagreement within its governing coalition.

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