Poison Pen: AGRI Committee signs off on pesticides over nature


This morning, the AGRI committee of the European Parliament has blocked the ‘delegated regulation’ proposing to ban the use of pesticides in Ecological Focus Areas, areas that are dedicated to nature conservation. MEPs Dess and Agnew successfully lodged an objection to the proposal, which was supported in a vote at AGRI committee with 30 votes in favour, 11 against and 1 abstention. The proposal from the European Commission was intended to strengthen a weakness in the current rules, and to justify the many billions of Euro that are spent on this key farming policy. As part of the subsidy regime to farmers, and in order to access the ‘green direct payment’, some farmers must dedicate a modest 5% of their land to conserve biodiversity.

The MEPs maintain that they are objecting on principle because the European Commission has bundled 14 separate amendments to the delegated regulations in one act. However, it is clear that they disagree with only one of these amendments – the ban of pesticides on EFAs.

Despite the recent citizens’ call for CAP reform – in which over 250,000 people have asked the Commission to stand up for a Living Land [1] – MEPs have not listened. This makes it all the more clear that such important legislation on the future of our food and farming system should be discussed by all relevant committees in Parliament and not solely amongst those who benefit most from the existing policy.

Thomas Quinn, EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia: The absurdity of allowing the use of pesticides in areas that are designated for nature conservation is blatantly apparent to everyone other than those who voted for it in the AGRI committee. Europe spends billions of Euros to have ‘Ecological Focus Areas’ across our farmland, and the AGRI committee seems determined to prevent them from living up to their name.”

Trees Robijns, Senior EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia: It is clear that the AGRI committee cannot be entrusted to ensure the greening of the CAP. We call for shared decision making responsibility on all issues that touch our food and farming system with all relevant committees, especially the “Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee”. We need not just a better policy, but an improved decision making process. At a time where faith in European institutions is perilously low, we need this more than ever.