Von der Leyen finally stands up for nature law — just as it may fall

By Louise Guillot, Karl Mathiesen | 04/26/2024 12:20 PM EDT

After months of silence, the European Commission chief made a plea for her embattled bill in a letter obtained by POLITICO — just before Slovakia pulled its support.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen speaks Jan. 17. Frederick Florin/AFP via Getty Images

BRUSSELS/BRATISLAVA — It took her a year, but European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen is finally defending her own law to protect nature — just as the coalition behind it is fracturing.

In a letter sent to European Parliament members and obtained by POLITICO, the top EU executive expresses fulsome support for her Nature Restoration Law, calling it “the flagship proposal” of the Green Deal’s “biodiversity pillar” and “key to delivering on the EU’s global biodiversity commitments.”

Von der Leyen has come under huge pressure from her own European People’s Party over the law. Parliamentarians from the conservative group have repeatedly tried to torpedo the bill, driving a wedge between the Commission president and the party she is now leading into the EU elections.


Through it all, von der Leyen has remained largely silent, refusing to engage as her own political allies pilloried the measure as bureaucratic overreach. That makes her new letter, dated April 16, all the more notable. It comes nearly a full year after members of the European Parliament pleaded with the EU boss in a memo to defend the measure.