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EU Nature Restoration Law formally approved by the Council

On 17 June 2024, following an intensive legislative process, the Council of the EU formally approved the Regulation on Nature Restoration, commonly referred to as the “Nature Restoration Law”. This landmark legislation focuses explicitly on restoring the EU’s natural environments. 

The Regulation lays down rules to contribute to the long-term and sustained recovery of biodiverse and resilient ecosystems across the Member States’ land and sea areas through the restoration of degraded ecosystems. It is a key element of the EU Biodiversity Strategy for 2030 which is part of the European Green Deal. 

Additionally, the Regulation aims to help the EU meet its international commitments, in particular the UN Kunming-Montreal global biodiversity framework agreed at the 2022 UN biodiversity conference (COP15) (see our previous blog post). This Regulation places the EU well ahead of many countries that will participate in the next COP16 to be held in October 2024 in Columbia. 

This Regulation outlines a framework that requires Member States to implement effective, area-specific restoration measures. The goal is to restore at least 20% of land and sea areas by 2030, aiming to address all ecosystems requiring restoration by 2050. It establishes legally binding restoration targets and obligations across various ecosystems, including terrestrial, marine, freshwater, and urban areas.

The proposal for this Regulation was put forward by the Commission on 22 June 2022. A political agreement between the Parliament and Council was reached on 9 November 2023 after considerable compromises (see our previous blog post). The Parliament formally adopted the Regulation on 27 February 2024.

The Council did not modify the version adopted by the Parliament in February. However, its adoption followed an initial setback on 25 March 2024, when several Member States expressed opposition to the Regulation (including concerns about the impact of the Regulation on farmers and EU food security), and it was taken off the meeting agenda. On 17 June 2024, the Regulation narrowly passed in the Council vote, concluding months of impasse. It garnered support from 20 countries, including Austria, which had initially declared its intention to oppose the legislation. The Austrian vote was instrumental in obtaining the necessary majority. 

However, the Council’s adoption of the Regulation is facing internal challenges in Austria. Various press reports (see for example here and here) suggest that the conservative People's Party in Austria plans to file a criminal complaint against Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler for alleged abuse of office, accusing her of prioritising her environmental agenda over legal compliance and claiming she did not have authority to vote in favour of the Regulation. There has also been speculation in the press that Austria may also seek to challenge the validity of Austria’s vote in the Court of Justice of the European Union (CJEU). However, in the meantime, Austria’s vote in the Council is deemed to be valid.  

Next steps

The Regulation will now be published in the Official Journal of the EU and enter into force. It will become directly applicable in all Member States. By 2033, the Commission will need to review the application of the Regulation and its impacts on the agricultural, fisheries and forestry sectors, as well as its wider socio-economic effects.

For more information on key biodiversity risks for businesses, see our Biodiversity and nature webpage.


biodiversity & nature, climate change & environment, eu green deal & fit for 55, eu-wide, blog posts