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No ban in EU on chemicals, but premium for organic switch

The European Commission is sticking to its Green Deal plans to halve the use of chemical pesticides within eight years. There will be no ban, but there will be a subsidy scheme to help farmers in their transition from fewer chemicals to more organic.

The European Commission will present 'an extensive toolbox' that will become part of the European common agricultural policy. A new nature restoration law must put an end to the deterioration of water and green gebieden.

There will be a total ban on the use of pesticides in public places such as parks, nature reserves and sports fields. In addition, there will be obligations for nature restoration per EU country. It is not about building new natural areas, but refurbishing existing green and water-rich places.

Commissioners Timmermans (Climate), Sinkevicius (Environment) and Kyriakides (Food + Health) announced this in Brussels. “We will replace chemical pesticides with safe alternatives,” said Commissioner Kyriakides.

“Farmers will be supported over the next five years with unprecedented EU funding to cover the costs of the transition.” Until 2027, approximately 100 billion euros is available in the EU budget for nature restoration.

Halving the amount of pesticides by 2030 is a goal for the entire EU. The EU countries contribute 35 to 65 percent, depending on their own situation. For the Netherlands this means 50 percent less pesticides. The EU countries must report to Brussels on this annually.

The Farm-to-Fork and Green Deal implementation rules were initially scheduled to be announced last March, but were then "taken off the agenda" due to the outbreak of Russia's war in Ukraine and its potential impact on the global food situation. Critics say less pesticide use will lead to smaller harvests and less income for farmers.

The Commission is therefore also announcing a comprehensive study into the 'drivers' of food production and distribution. According to EU Commissioner Timmermans, there is no shortage of food, but there is a surplus, and twenty percent is wasted every day. He says 'more of the same is not the solution'.

Moreover, recent debates and opinion polls with thousands of EU citizens in so-called Future conferences show that more than three quarters believe that agriculture should become 'more nature-friendly'.

The now-launched proposal must first be approved by the European Parliament and the EU countries before it takes effect and can be amended or watered down during trilogue negotiations.

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