May 19. 2024. 12:55

The Daily

Read the World Today

EU Commission agrees to provide ‘additional input’ on pesticide cut plans


The European Commission has approved a request from EU agriculture ministers for a further impact assessment on plans to slash the use and risk of pesticides in half by 2030, but warns it does not have much more information to offer.

The sustainable use of pesticides regulation (SUR) is a contentious but ambitious proposal that aims to slash the use and risk of pesticides in half by 2030, as set out in the EU’s flagship food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy (F2F).

But progress on the file has not been smooth sailing, with EU agriculture ministers demanding an additional impact assessment to the Commission to get more information before proceeding, effectively stalling negotiations.

This request has now formally been approved, as per a letter, sent on Wednesday (22 March) from Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič to the Swedish minister for EU affairs Jessika Roswall.

“On the basis of the Council request, the Commission will in the spirit of sincere cooperation and on an exceptional basis, be providing additional input, as requested by the Council, on the basis of available evidence and data as soon as it becomes available in the course of spring 2023,” it reads.

This is because of the ‘exceptional circumstances’ affecting the food system which have occurred since the adoption of the SUR proposal and its accompanying impact assessment, citing Russia’s invasion of Ukraine and increased concerns for global food security, as well as droughts

This input will be shared with the European Parliament in parallel, the letter adds.

MEPs agree EU pesticide reduction plan votes, pushing final deal after 2023

European lawmakers finally agreed on a timeline to vote on their position on the EU’s plan to slash pesticides. But this leaves a final deal on the contentious file unlikely in 2023, as confirmed by a leaked draft of the Belgian presidency priorities.

Limitations

However, the letter emphasises that the Commission is limited in terms of what it can further offer.

For example, it points out that it “does not possess comparable data on pesticide use broken down by individual crops or active substances,” and that it has highlighted a need to improve the availability of monitoring data.

Moreover, the Commission is “not in the position” to carry out a study with a separate detailed analysis for each of the 27 individual member states, the letter states.

As such, “certain limitations in the specific pesticide use data available at Union level restricted the analytical possibilities,” it concludes.

The Commission also reiterated that the original impact assessment that accompanied the SUR was carried out “fully in line with the better regulation procedures” and obtained a “positive opinion from the regulatory scrutiny board”.

“All stakeholders and member states had multiple opportunities to provide input, including relevant data, to this work,” it states.

Moreover, the letter points out that the EU executive already provided additional data to the Council on the use of pesticides in sensitive areas, including a non-paper back at the end of 2022, and has carried out “extensive modelling of alternative methodologies for calculating national pesticide reduction targets”.

Despite these assertions, the letter stresses that the Commission “remains available to cooperate fully with the European Parliament and the Council to achieve swift progress on this proposal”.

Commission ready to come to terms with EU countries on pesticide cuts

The European Commission’s proposal for halving the use of pesticides is still up for discussion, Food Safety Commissioner Stella Kyriakides stressed after a majority of member states called for a fresh impact study on the ramifications of such a step.