By Pietro Lombardi
MADRID (Reuters) -The European Union environment commissioner and Spain’s energy minister increased pressure on European lawmakers on Monday to support a flagship law to restore nature so that negotiations among the bloc’s institutions can start.
The European Parliament will vote on Wednesday on a European Commission proposal for a law to restore damaged environments.
The vote is expected to be close. The parliament’s largest group, the conservative European People’s Party, opposes it, saying that it would threaten food security. That claim was rejected by the European Commission and scientists.
“It looks like it will be a tight vote, but I hope that, at the end of the day, responsibility for the future wins,” EU Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevicius told a press conference.
He warned that, should the lawmakers vote down the proposal, the EU’s executive arm would not table a new one as there would not be enough time before the EU Parliament election next June, adding that a rejection would “put a great shadow on our credibility” internationally.
On Tuesday, Sinkevicius will participate in a parliamentary debate on the proposal.
“I hope there will be those who want to listen, who want to engage,” he said.
Sinkevicius’ words echoed those of the Spanish Energy Minister Teresa Ribera, who earlier on Monday said she hoped “the parliament reaches a position that supports this file”.
Spain holds the EU rotating presidency until the end of the year, and on Monday Ribera kicked off an informal meeting of environment and energy ministers in Valladolid, northwest of Spain.
“It is very important not only to conserve but also to restore nature… There will be time to improve what we have on the table but for the time being, the best thing we can do is to achieve an agreement,” Ribera said.
(Reporting by Pietro Lombardi; Editing by Andrei Khalip, and Alex Richardson)
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