Reducing pesticide consumption is one of the mainstays of the European ‘land-to-table’ strategy, which should point the way to a sustainable future model for agriculture and food production. The Commission originally planned to present the proposal in March, but after the Russian military invasion of Ukraine, the Commission decided to press the pause button.
The war in Europe’s breadbasket has created great uncertainty about food supply and pushed up prices, but in the end the Commission has not given up its intention despite Member States’ concerns about the potential impact on food production.
“It would be irresponsible to use the war to dilute these proposals and say that sustainability leads to less food,” argued Vice President Frans Timmermans. “The climate and biodiversity crisis is happening right in front of us and is the biggest threat to our food security.”
The regulation sets the target of halving the general use of chemical pesticides and the use of the most dangerous pesticides by 2030. The 50% target is one for the whole of the EU. Member States are free to set their own objectives, taking into account the specific situation and intensity of application of each country. Nevertheless, the Commission can intervene if it considers the level of ambition to be too low. A reduction of 35 percent is in any case the lower limit.
The Commission envisages specific financial support from the CAP over the next five years to help farmers bear the costs and switch to sustainable alternatives, such as plant extracts and micro-organisms. The use of pesticides in public places, such as parks and playgrounds, is completely prohibited.
In addition, for the first time, the Commission presented a regulation setting legal targets for nature restoration. According to the day-to-day management of the EU, European nature is deteriorating alarmingly. More than eighty percent of European habitats are in poor condition. “We humans are dependent on nature: for the air we breathe, for the water we drink, for the food we eat? for life. Our economy also runs on nature, ”explained Timmerman’s importance.
The first goal is to introduce measures for nature restoration for at least 20 percent of land and sea areas by 2030. By 2050, this should be gradually expanded to include all ecosystems in need of restoration. The regulation covers a range of measures for nature restoration in ecosystems: from reversing the decline of pollinator stocks, to restoring drained peatlands and habitats for dolphins, to removing river barriers. In addition, there are also objectives for nature conservation in urbanized areas. For example, the loss of green space must be stopped by 2030, and the tree crowns’ coverage of each city must increase by ten percent by 2050.
Preparation of national nature restoration plans
The Regulation obliges Member States to draw up national nature restoration plans together with scientists, stakeholders and the general public. The Commission also wants to make money available for these efforts. In the multiannual budget up to 2027, a total of € 100 billion has been set aside for spending on biodiversity. She stresses that these investments pay for themselves. “Every euro spent on nature restoration brings in at least eight euros,” said EU Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevi? Ius.
The two regulations are now being sent to the Member States and the European Parliament, which must endorse both texts.