The Dutch project for converting animal manure into a purified and nature-friendly manure substitute is now supported by sixteen EU countries. This became apparent last Monday in the monthly Agriculture Council, where Spain presented a short-term fertilizer plan on behalf of those countries.
A top Dutch civil servant held talks in Madrid last week with the Spanish drafters of that package of wishes, after which the Dutch plea was added to the package as one of the main elements. Many ministers hinted on Monday that they believe that the European Commission should finally make a decision about admitting new substances as a replacement for fertilizer.
Previous reports from EU experts have shown that the results of the Dutch pilot project indicate that it is less environmentally polluting than regular manure. Reportedly, the European Commission would like to stick to the criterion that processed and purified manure substitute is still an 'animal product'.
In that case, it may not be used indefinitely everywhere. Wojciechowski did not want to say anything about that, and referred to his presentation next spring.
Wojciechowski did make it clear that opening up the financial agricultural crisis reserve will not really help. That crisis fund contains about 450 million euros, while rough estimates already assume billions of higher fertilizer bills throughout the EU. Moreover, that money can only be used if all 27 countries agree, which is not yet the case.
That Spanish plan with 'immediately executable projects' has been submitted to Brussels by the EU ministers, out of dissatisfaction with the recent fertilizer announcement by Agriculture Commissioner Janusz Wojciechowski. He left any compensation for the expensive fertilizer to the national governments, and said he will come up with a plan in the spring for the authorization of nature-friendly agricultural products. It is still not clear which criteria any new resources will have to meet.