Also from Styria

ÖVP politicians against EU nature conservation law

16.02.2024 07:00

The EU's planned renaturation law remains highly controversial in Austria. Now leading ÖVP politicians from seven federal states - led by Styrian Agriculture Minister Simone Schmiedtbauer - are calling on the Austrian Members of the European Parliament not to approve the draft law. The Greens strongly criticize this call.

Around 90 percent of the moors in Austria have been destroyed. It is just one of the examples of where the EU's planned renaturation law is to intervene in future: By 2030, ecosystems damaged in this way are to be "ecologically restored" on 20 percent of the European Union's territory. At the same time, the EU aims to provide cities with more green spaces and create new nature reserves.

ÖVP politicians against the draft law
However, there is also vociferous criticism: leading ÖVP politicians from Carinthia, Lower Austria, Upper Austria, Salzburg, Tyrol, Vorarlberg and Styria have now sent a letter to all Austrian MEPs urging them to vote against the draft law in the plenary session of the European Parliament in Strasbourg.

Styrian Agriculture Councillor Simone Schmiedtbauer, who initiated the letter, says: "I already rejected this initiative by the EU Commission as an MEP. Unfortunately, the subsequent negotiations have also failed to provide a sustainable answer to important open questions such as the impending loss of valuable arable land or financing."

She continued: "Styrian agriculture is an important partner in our efforts to achieve greater climate and environmental protection and they need support instead of excessive restrictions. This is not adequately reflected in the present voting text. In addition, there is still concern that farmers would be left to foot the bill. At a time when our domestic agriculture is already struggling with major challenges, this sends out completely the wrong signal."

Greens criticize the move
The Styrian Greens are taking a firm stance against the ÖVP's efforts: "Instead of listening to the real needs of local small farmers, the People's Party is choosing the path of populism," says Andreas Lackner, agricultural spokesperson for the Greens in Styria, vegetable farmer in south-eastern Styria and designated chairman of the Green Farmers' Association.

With this initiative, the ÖVP would be talking at the mouth of the agricultural lobby: "The lobbyists of the big agricultural companies seem to be doing a great job. If the ÖVP were really on the side of our farmers, its MEPs in Brussels would take a stand against the agricultural industry and join us in fighting the unjust subsidy policy that is starving the small farmers." The current wave of indignation that is rolling across Europe with the farmers' protests should not be used as an excuse to play nature conservation off against agriculture.

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