The country trembles under siege: Restructuring turns controversial in coalition

At a press event on Thursday, the president left no doubt that he would continue to reject the EU Recovery Act. Chancellor Karl Nehhammer (ÖVP) described the regulation as “a dramatic example of over-regulatory madness in Brussels”.

Agriculture Minister Norbert Totschnig (ÖVP) said that – if there was no longer a consistent “no” from the states – the restriction also affected his sector and he could not accept it. At ZIB2 in the evening, the Minister of Agriculture reiterated his criticism of the proposed law. Among other things, he pointed out at the regulatory meeting that no one knows how many areas in Austria will be affected and what the costs will be. “I can’t buy a pig in one punch,” Todsnick says.

“Can’t agree to this regulation”

Agriculture Minister Norbert Dochtnik (ÖVP) speaks out against the EU reform law and has the support of Chancellor Nehhammer (ÖVP). In ZIB2 he explains his position.

Vienna and Carinthia leave

It is only because of recent reports from Vienna and Carinthia that such a separate initiative by the Environment Minister is even being considered. Although the federal states have previously spoken unanimously against the EU revival law, last weekend it was said they wanted to discuss it again from Vienna and Carinthia.

APA/Roland Schlager

Nehammer and Totschnig jointly rejected the EU revival law on Thursday

Vienna’s Mayor Michael Ludwig (SPÖ) wrote on Wednesday that Ludwig submitted a consistent – positive – report from the states.

No federal states have yet tied Kevesler’s hands

So far it’s clear: If the federal states speak unanimously against the EU revival plans, the central government should follow suit and put prime minister Kevesler to the vote. Because nature conservation is a matter for the states in Austria. If the judgment of the States was not unanimous, the situation would be different.

Coalition debate on the EU Recovery Act

If the federal states’ lack of unanimity over EU reform legislation does indeed become history, the federal government will no longer be bound by the veto. But Environment Minister Leonor Küssler (Greens) is contentious in the coalition whether she can decide on her own.

However, there is clearly disagreement within the coalition about how to proceed – and even among experts there is no single view. The chancellor and the agriculture minister made it clear on Thursday that, in their opinion, Gewessler should not proceed alone. The legal situation is clear, Totschnig said.

Constitutional lawyer Obwexer supports the ÖVP view

From this point of view, the ÖVP can count on Walter Obwecks, an Innsbruck constitutional lawyer and dean of the Faculty of Law at the University of Innsbruck. In an interview with the “Kurier” on Wednesday, Gewessler said he needed the approval of Totschnig and Finance Minister Magnus Brunner and European Minister Karoline Edtstadler (all ÖVP).

This procedure is basically laid down in the Union Ministries Act (BMG). But, in recent times, the government has not always acted accordingly. In the recent past, when the affairs of several ministries were affected by EU legislation, the coalition failed to reach an agreement to comply with the BMG during a vote in the Council.

In the most recent example, on May 13 this year, representatives of EU countries voted on changes to the EU’s Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). The Environment Ministry raised an objection due to low environmental quality. Austria voted for more changes. When asked about this approach, Todznik said that an examination of the CAP had shown a clear commitment to change, and that 26 of the 27 EU countries were in favor of it, and that “Germany was the only one not to vote”.

Lawyer Ennöckl refers to the federal constitution

From the perspective of lawyer Daniel Ennochlin, head of the Law Institute of the University of Natural Resources and Life Sciences of Vienna (BOKU), the way is clear for Gewessler once a federal government officially “leaves the balance sheet. Report”. According to the Federal Constitution (B-VG), you can agree to EU regulation without the consent of other ministries.

Climate Protection Minister Leonore Küssler (Green)

APA/Eva Manhart

Environment Minister Kewsler hopes that all federal states will put an end to the referendum

“I call on Vienna and Carinthia to show their colors and make it clear: do they support the state’s statement or nature. “If countries abandon their uniform stance, everyone can count on one thing: I will do everything to ensure that Austria agrees to EU legislation to protect nature,” Kevesler said in an early statement.

SPÖ sees Gewessler on the move

A negative consensus statement of states is still valid. SPÖ environment spokeswoman Julia Herr said in a broadcast that the latest developments had “cleared the way” for “natural areas and biodiversity protection across Europe”. Gewessler “must now give the necessary approval from Austria in the Council”.

The FPÖ expressed itself quite differently. FPÖ environment spokesman Walter Rauch said in a broadcast that the term “reconstruction” masks a serious attack on local farmers. The FPÖ questioned whether Nehämmer’s rejection would stand.

Environmentalists accuse opponents of populism

Environmental protection organization WWF Austria criticized the “false and misleading statements” of Nehhammer and Todznik: “The political rejection of the law has no scientific basis. It is pure populism and damages Austria’s reputation in Europe,” says WWF expert Joschka Branks.

A graphic shows the goals and schedule of the planned EU recovery legislation

Graphics: APA/ORF; Quelle: What

Earlier in the week, the Environmental Protection Agency, together with biodiversity expert Franz Essl, presented a “fact check” on the EU’s regeneration plans. It said in the presentation that the arguments put forward by opponents could be exposed as “a mixture of false, populist and simply misinformation”.

The Regeneration Act will see more forests reforested in the future, moors rewetted and rivers restored to their natural state – in measures to protect nature and fight the climate crisis. EU countries and the EU Parliament actually adopted a common legal text last year. In February this year, the EU Parliament voted in favor by a narrow majority. However, despite the tripartite agreement, the necessary majority in the Council of the European Union is still not available.

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