Rewetting and farmland ecosystem targets have been included in the latest draft of the EU nature restoration law which could be the final text of the regulation, pending just two final votes.

This is despite the European Parliament voting this summer to seek the deletion of these elements from the law, which got the backing of MEPs by only a tight margin.

The text which emerged from trilogue negotiations will oblige member states to restore 30% of drained peatlands under agricultural use by 2030, 40% by 2040 and 50% by 2050.

Flexibility is to be provided to member states “strongly affected” by peatland restoration targets.


The law’s overarching targets require restoration measures to be put in place across 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas by 2030, rising to restoring 60% of habitats currently classed as ‘poor’ in condition by 2040 and at least 90% of these habitats by 2050.

Member states are to have the option of choosing two of three targets to reach for farmland ecosystems: these are grassland butterflies, high-diversity landscape features on farms and organic matter in tillage soils.

The law states that Natura 2000 designated lands should be prioritised for restoration measures over the next six years, a move which has been criticised by the Irish Natura and Hill Farmers’ Association (INHFA).

INHFA president Vincent Roddy also warned that the future land eligibility for CAP payments on any farmland put under restoration measures has not been safeguarded.

The farm leader stated that the remaining absence of an EU budget for the law should further compel MEPs to hear the INHFA’s calls for the law to be rejected at the last possible moment.

The text will need a final seal of approval from MEPs and the parliament’s environment committee.

The European People’s Party (EPP) group of MEPs, which had largely opposed the law when it was first proposed and as it made its way through the European Parliament, has softened its stance since the trilogues concluded.

Group negotiator on the law, Christine Schneider MEP, welcomed the text as having “little to do with the original proposal from the Commission”, which she said was “ideologically driven, practically infeasible and a disaster for farmers”.