The European Commission presented today its long-awaited proposal for a regulation to reduce pesticide use in Europe in order to avoid ecosystem collapse. The proposal has been given a cautious welcome by food and farming groups (Corporate Europe Observatory, European Environmental Bureau, Friends of the Earth Europe, Slow Food). Campaigners see it as an urgent and welcome first step, but more is needed to put Europe on the path to a sustainable and healthy food system and protect the health of farm workers, citizens and the environment.
The fact that the proposal is now a regulation, compared to a directive, is an important improvement but will not be sufficient to ensure proper and prompt implementation by Member States. Political decision-makers must remain vigilant so that the mistakes of the past, that have made us lose a decade of inaction, are not repeated.
Nina Holland, researcher at Corporate Europe Observatory, said:
“It is good to see that a proposal including binding EU and national targets is finally on the table. However, what is proposed is really the bare minimum. 1.2 million of citizens have demanded a reduction of synthetic pesticides of 80% by 2030, and a full phase-out by 2035. Now it’s up to the EU member states and the European Parliament to step up the ambition, and not bow to industry pressure to keep our food system in the pesticide lock-in.”
Eva Corral, Senior Policy Advisor for Pesticide and Water Pollution at European Environmental Bureau, said:
“As any doctor would say, prevention is better than cure. Integrated pest management, which base are agronomical practices, monitoring and physical control, must be a cornerstone of the new legislation for the sake of human, animal and plant health”.
Clara Bourgin, Food, Agriculture and Nature Campaigner at Friends of the Earth Europe, said:
“The European Commission could have gone much further to bring about pesticides-free agriculture much sooner. Binding EU and national targets is an important first step, but overall the proposals put too much emphasis on corporate-controlled ‘precision farming’ and other false solutions, and not enough emphasis on agroecological practices.”
Madeleine Coste, policy officer at Slow Food Europe, said:
“In spite of the agrochemical industry’s intense lobbying, the proposal that EU Member States would now have to commit to halving pesticides use by 2030 is an important step towards transforming the way we farm. However, we must ensure that the budget of the Common Agricultural Policy is leveraged to drive the transition towards agroecology by supporting farmers, or the European Green Deal will remain empty words.”