European Commission President proposes withdrawing text halving pesticide use

It was at the center of the “Green Deal”. The legislative project on pesticides, proposed in June 2022 by Brussels, aimed to halve by 2030 the use and risks at EU level of chemical phytosanitary products compared to the period 2015-2017.

Except that this proposal “has become a symbol of polarization”, lamented Ursula von der Leyen in Strasbourg, while angry farmers have been denouncing for weeks European ecological standards deemed excessive compared to competing countries. Furthermore, this legislative project was rejected by Parliament. “There is no more progress in the Council either. This is why I will propose to the college of commissioners to withdraw this proposal,” she declared to MEPs.

According to her, “the subject remains topical” but “to move forward, more dialogue and a different approach are necessary”. The Commission could make a new proposal “much more mature, with the participation of stakeholders”, she declared without giving a date. And he notes: “Farmers need economic reasons to take nature protection measures, perhaps we have not explained these reasons to them convincingly. »

“Towards a more sustainable production model”
Already, European parliamentarians had emptied the text of its substance, at the end of November, after amendments from elected PPE (right) officials to avoid “unrealistic” constraints on the agricultural world. An extremely rare rejection which contributed to de facto burying this text a few months before the European elections of June 2024 while the EU “Green Deal” appears as a scarecrow.

Theoretically, the Ministers of Agriculture could continue to debate the text, but in practice the negotiations between the Twenty-Seven are permanently bogged down, with several States expressing alarm at the impact on yields and production. Faced with the agricultural crisis, the European executive is striving to multiply pledges: last week it proposed granting a partial exemption from fallow obligations and limiting Ukrainian agricultural imports, after having already given up last year to propose a text on nutritional labeling (Nutriscore type).

Ursula von der Leyen assured that she was aware of the agricultural malaise: faced with the effects of climate change and the war in Ukraine, “many farmers feel cornered. They deserve to be listened to.”

“They also know that agriculture must move towards a more sustainable production model, we want to ensure that they remain in control of the process,” she underlined, recalling having launched a “dialogue in January strategic” with the sector on future prospects. “We need to go beyond a polarized debate and build trust. We must avoid blaming each other, and seek solutions to problems together,” she concluded.

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