EU health commissioner Stella Kyriakides has finally put farm-to-table laws on the agenda of next Wednesday's weekly commissioners meeting.
These laws form the European legal framework for reducing chemical pesticides and fertilizers in agriculture and for expanding organic farming.
Earlier this year, under pressure from the war in Ukraine and pressure from agricultural circles, those laws were removed from the committee's agenda. Ten EU countries (Austria, Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania, Slovakia and Slovenia) now want countries not to be penalized or fined if they fail to meet their pesticide reduction target.
With the war in Ukraine still raging, food security concerns have increased and some elements of Green Deal climate policy have already been temporarily suspended or reversed. Since March, it has been argued that the Climate Goals should not lead to “reduction in agricultural production”.
The organic proposal would set a EU-wide legal target of a 50 percent reduction in pesticides over eight years. Kyriakides has argued that data shows that it is possible to “reduce the use of pesticides without compromising food security”.
It is not known whether Kyriakides has made any changes to her previous texts, or whether she is putting the package from last March to the vote unchanged.
Environmental groups fear new delays or postponements. Meanwhile, a recent report contradicts official claims that the use of toxic pesticides in the EU is declining. This is apparent from the fact that more and more vegetables and fruit contain traces of chemicals. Pesticide sales in the EU have remained stable since 2011, according to Eurostat data.
Under the new EU law, a complete ban on pesticides in public areas such as parks, playgrounds or conservation areas is also being considered.
Within the European Commission, Climate Commissioner Frans Timmermans is responsible for combating air pollution, Environment Commissioner Virginius Sinkevicius against soil and water pollution and Kyriakides is responsible for animal welfare, food and biodiversity. Parts of their regulations and laws also apply to other policy areas, such as Economy or Agriculture.
It is well known that European Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski would rather see the (his) future common agricultural policy (CAP) of the EU countries drawn up first, including the national strategic plans, so that it becomes clear to farmers where they stand. Others, on the other hand, believe that Wojciechowski should also cooperate in the implementation of laws of the other commissioners.