By Jenny Brunton, Senior European Policy Advisor
The European Commission proposed a new Regulation on the Sustainable Use of Plant Protection Products to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% and the use of more hazardous pesticides (plant protection products containing one or more active substances approved as candidates for substitution) by 50% by 2030. The proposal transforms the existing Directive into a Regulation which will be directly applicable in all Member States. The Commission stated that “the current rules of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive have proven to be too weak and have been unevenly implemented. Also, insufficient progress has been made in the use of Integrated Pest Management as well as other alternative approaches.”
The proposal includes:
- Legally binding targets reducing the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 50% by the year 2030.
- A ban on all pesticide use in sensitive areas, including all urban green areas used by the general public.
- Environmentally friendly pest control ensuring all farmers practice Integrated Pest Management in which chemical pesticides are used only as a last resort.
- Promoting low-risk alternatives with national targets to increase nonchemical methods of pest control and sales of non-chemical plant protection products.
- Helping farmers access required advice and guidance for more sustainable farming with less chemical pesticides.
- Enabling the use of new technologies such as precision farming, which contributes to further reducing the use of chemical pesticides.
- Common Agricultural Policy funding for investments and advice in sustainable practices. Accelerating approvals of biological alternatives for farmers and other pesticide users.
- Global solidarity by supporting sustainable agriculture in countries exporting food to the EU and introducing a new, more environmental approach on maximum residues level.
A majority of EU Member States have strongly criticised the European Commission's proposal on pesticide reduction during the first ministerial discussion of the plans in Brussels. Many agree with farming bodies that the regulation poses serious threats to food security in Europe, already under severe pressure by the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Update - 8 August 2022
Member States receive tailored pesticide reduction targets
EU member states have until early September to respond to the proposed reduction targets under the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR), which the Commission sent to each agriculture ministry in July. The Czechs, who will lead work on the SUR during their presidency of the EU Council, have already indicated they will push back against the proposals.
According to an unofficial list of the Commission’s targets for 25 EU countries, Italy faces the biggest challenge to cut the use and risk of pesticides by 62 percent. Germany must reduce by 55 percent, with France and Spain both by 54 percent. Ten other countries have been told to reduce the use and risk of pesticides by more than 50 percent, taking them further than the EU’s stated goal for the entire bloc.
The proposal also allows member states to set their own national goal considering their national situation, including historical progress and the intensity of pesticide use. However, in no case may the national target be lower than 35%, to ensure that all Member States reduce the use of pesticides. Ten member countries, including Slovakia, requested this flexibility before the legislation was published.