Pesticides use in ecological focus areas: Delegated acts of CAP reform move responsibility to member states

pesticide-spray besemerPesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) has slammed the European Commission’s failure to agree on a set of delegated acts answering whether or not to authorise pesticides in ecological focus areas (EFA). What they did agree upon, though, was allowing member states to decide, a decision that PAN Europe brands as “not being a very green EU approach.”

The college of Commissioner has today approved the so-called delegated acts of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which still needs to be approved/rejected by European Parliament and Council.

These delegated acts could have answered clearly to a very simple question: are farmers allowed to use pesticides in ecological focus areas (EFAs)? But the European Commission failed in doing so. Instead the European Commission moved the responsibility to member states.

Each member state will be able to set a ban on pesticides in EFAs, but will not be obliged to do so. Instead, what each member state will have to do is issuing a list of crops that they intend to grow in the EFAs.

PAN Europe President François Veillerette said: “EFAs were introduced into the CAP to increase biodiversity on each farm across the EU. Creation of EFAs is thus in contradiction with food production and even incompatible with the use of pesticides. Where did the ‘green logic’ of the CAP reform go?”

While member states established, in 1999, a declaration calling on the need for the CAP to reduce pesticides use in November 2013, 23 member states sent a letter to the European Commission calling on the need to respect the political deal arguing “any limitations on pesticide and fertiliser use would make conventional production on EFA impossible”.

So, while European citizens may have expected to get clear answers from the CAP reform proposals, answering the main concerns such as on the use of pesticides, the answer is still to come.

Background

(1) In 1999, the Agricultural Council in Cardiff adopted specific objectives for agrochemicals in the Council strategy on the environmental integration and sustainable development in the Common Agricultural Policy: “In addition to EU rules to control maximum levels of pesticides in farm produce and measures to reduce the environmental risks of pesticide use (water contamination, deterioration of biodiversity, etc.), further measures should be developed for sensitive areas. PPP and biocides should only be used when needed and in accordance with the principle of good plant protection practices. There is a need further to reduce the risks to the environment from the use of PPP and biocides and to continue to ensure that there are no risks to health in their use.”
(2) According to Eurobarometer 379/2013T on ‘European attitutes towards biodiversity’ the pollution of air and water and man-made disasters threaten biodiversity (96%), and finding that the cause is intensive farming, deforestation and over-fishing (94%).
(3) According to Eurobarometer Survey 314/2009 on European attitudes toward chemicals in consumer products: risk perception of potential health hazards,  EU citizens consider pesticides to be the chemicals posing most risk to the user (70% of respondents, p.6).
(4) According to Eurobarometer Survey 354/2010 on food risk issues, the main concern of EU citizens is the issue of pesticide residues in fruit, vegetables or cereals (72% of respondents, p.15), and increase of 4% from the 2005 survey (Eurobarometer Survey 238/2006).

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Category: A Frontpage, Agriculture, Biodiversity, Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), Environment, EU