Austrian party sues environment minister for alleged abuse of office

Austrian party sues environment minister for alleged abuse of office

Chancellor Karl Nehmer's party accuses minister of 'abuse of office' for voting in favor of EU Nature Restoration Law

By Timo Kirez

GENEVA (AA) - Austrian Chancellor Karl Nehammer-led Austrian People's Party (OVP) has sued the country’s environment minister for alleged abuse of power, local daily Heute reported Thursday.

The OVP filed a criminal complaint with the Vienna public prosecutor's office, accusing Climate Action and Environment Minister Leonore Gewessler of abusing her official powers when she voted for an EU Nature Restoration Law sans the chancellor’s approval.

According to Austrian criminal law, this offense carries a prison sentence of six months to five years. However, it must first be proven that the abuse was deliberate.

Green Party Minister Gewessler’s vote in favor of the EU law on Monday has thrown Austria’s coalition government into crisis, with Nehammer calling the approval illegal.

The Austrian chancellor has also vowed to seek legal action against the law at the European Court of Justice.

Although Nehammer said that the OVP would not leave the coalition with the Greens, they would only implement "necessary and important projects" from now on.

Under the nature restoration law, EU member states must restore at least 30% of natural habitats in poor condition by 2030, 60% by 2040, and 90% by 2050, according to the European Parliament's website.

"Over 80% of habitats in the EU are in poor condition," it adds.

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