The European Commission has lessons to learn from the divisive debate over the nature restoration law, Fine Gael MEP for Midlands-Northwest Maria Walsh has said.

Walsh told the Irish Farmers Journal that discussions on the nature restoration law could have been less divisive if the Commission was clearer with its messaging.

Future policy initiatives, such as CAP reform, will require more complete consultation exercises, she argued.

“It was a clear example of bureaucratic red-tape leading the charge on something that is detrimental to countries like Ireland,” Walsh said.

“As we continue to work on different policies, such as the next CAP, we will need to learn from that.

“And it is important that one entity - ie [European Commission vice-president] Frans Timmermans - is paving the way and making monumental change for all.”

The MEP backed a watered-down version of the law, which will not seek legally-binding peatland rewetting targets for farmland.

Trilogue negotiations are ongoing between the Commission, the European Parliament and member states to agree the final version of the law.

New money needed

A new funding stream is essential for the law’s roll-out, as the CAP budget is “not fit for purpose, never mind tying another bow to its string”, Walsh said.

“The big thing for me is that we have got to stop moving the posts for young farmers - we have the CAP, nature restoration, nitrates.

“There is just so many different things that are depleting our farmers, particularly our young ones when they are taking on land or looking to get involved in succession planning.”