European Commission withdraws proposal to cut pesticide use by half
The European Commission is withdrawing its proposal to reduce the use of pesticides by 50 per cent by 2030. The proposal had become "a symbol of polarisation", Commission president Ursula von der Leyen told the European Parliament in Strasbourg on Tuesday. Belgian prime minister Alexander De Croo welcomes the withdrawal of the European Commission's proposal.
In 2022, the Commission proposed cutting pesticide use by 50 per cent by the end of the decade, saying it was necessary to reduce the ecological footprint of the agricultural sector.
But the proposal was rejected by the European Parliament last November, and von der Leyen noted that there has been no progress among member states on the issue. She will, therefore, ask the College of Commissioners to withdraw the draft regulation.
According to von der Leyen, reducing the risks of chemical pesticides remains "a worthy goal", but a different approach is needed: one that is more "bottom-up" and "based on incentives". "On this basis, the Commission could develop a new, more mature proposal with the involvement of stakeholders," she said.
Von der Leyen did not give a timetable for a new proposal. In any case, it seems to be a matter for the new Commission, which will be formed after the elections in June. Von der Leyen wants the debate to occur within the recently launched Strategic Dialogue on the Future of EU Agriculture framework, which includes farmers and representatives from the fertiliser sector, the food industry, environmental organisations and the financial sector.
Von der Leyen's announcement follows recent large-scale protests by farmers in several member states. Last week, she also announced plans to temporarily exempt arable land from compulsory set-aside and to work on a plan to reduce administrative burdens.
The withdrawal of the proposal to halve pesticide use by 2030 is welcomed by Belgian prime minister De Croo. "This is the second measure taken under the impetus of the Belgian EU Presidency to address the legitimate concerns of farmers", he said.
© FREDERICK FLORIN / AFP