By Julia Dahm
The Member of the European Parliament leading the revision of the EU’s pesticide framework is pushing for more ambition both in targets and timelines for EU-wide pesticide cuts, according to a draft report seen by EURACTIV.
The European Parliament, which has to pass the legislation alongside the member states, could weigh in in favour of this latter position and push to up the ambition, if it follows the draft report authored by Green lawmaker Sarah Wiener, the leading MEP on the file. [SHUTTERSTOCK]
The European Commission put forth its proposal for the overhaul of the EU’s legislation on the sustainable use of pesticides regulation (SUR) in the summer of 2022, as part of efforts to slash both the use and risk of hazardous pesticides in half by 2030, as well as a complete ban in ‘sensitive’ areas.
However, the European Parliament report, which is dated 6 February and authored by Green lawmaker Sarah Wiener, the leading MEP on the file, pushes to increase the Commission’s 50% reduction target to 80% by 2030 for ″the use of more hazardous plant protection products″.
This can, for instance, include products that are carcinogenic, that is, cancer-causing, neurotoxic, or toxic for reproduction.
This would move the legislation closer to the demands of a recent citizens’ initiative, ‘Save bees and farmers’, which had called to aim for a general reduction of synthetic pesticides by 80%.
Meanwhile, the draft report goes so far as to propose a completely new name for the piece of legislation at hand. Rather than a regulation ″on the sustainable use of plant protection products″, Wiener’s draft refers to a regulation ″on the use of pesticides″.
While this may be seen as a cosmetic change, such a move carries weight as it is an attempt to shield the regulation from greenwashing claims.
Higher targets, stricter baselines
Additionally, the draft report sets stricter baselines against measuring the relative reduction by 2030 in each member state. Instead of reducing plant protection products compared to the use in 2015-2017, the document sets out 2018-2020 as the reference period.
What might sound like a technicality is a highly contentious issue for member states, who have stressed that those countries who have already done a lot to reduce pesticides in the past must not be penalised for this.
In effect, setting the reference period to a later date means a country that already cut its pesticide use between 2015 and 2018, say, will have to slash an already lower use in half by 2030.
A ‘sensitive’ issue
Equally contentious among member states is the proposed complete ban of chemical pesticides in ‘sensitive’ areas.
Here, Wiener’s draft report takes a more conciliatory stance, proposing, among other things, that fewer types of areas should count as sensitive and thus be affected by the ban.
Specifically, areas that are protected for reasons unrelated to pesticide use, such as the preservation of historical monuments or the beauty of landscapes, should be excluded.
The text also calls to ″adapt the conditions″ under which exemptions from the complete ban could be granted.
Read more at euractiv.com.