Pesticides use in ecological focus areas: The delegated acts of the Common Agricultural Policy reform move responsibility to Member States


Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) finds it deplorable that the European Commission did not manage to agree on a set of delegated acts answering such a simple question as to whether or not to authorise pesticides in ecological focus areas (EFA). What they did agree upon, though, was letting it for Member States to decide. This decision does not seem like a very green EU approach to us.

The college of Commissioner has today approved the so-called delegated acts of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP), which still needs to be approved/rejected by European Parliament and Council.

These delegated acts could have answered clearly to a very simple question: are farmers allowed to use pesticides in ecological focus areas (EFAs)? But the European Commission failed in doing so. Instead the European Commission moved the responsibility to Member States.

Each Member State will be able to set a ban on pesticides in EFAs, but will not be obliged to do so. Instead, what each Member State will have to do is issuing a list of crops that they intend to grow in the EFAs.

François Veillerette, president of PAN Europe stated “EFAs were introduced into the CAP to increase biodiversity on each farm across the EU. Creation of EFAs is thus in contradiction with food production and even incompatible with the use of pesticides. Where did the “green logic of the CAP reform go?”.

Member States have not helped the development of the green logic either. While they established, in 1999, a declaration calling on the need for the CAP to reduce pesticides use (1), in November 2013, 23 Member States sent a letter to the European Commission calling on the need to respect the political deal arguing any limitations on pesticide and fertiliser use would make conventional production on EFA impossible’ but of course not it is a ecological area..

So while you – European citizen – had expected to get clear answers from the CAP reform proposals, answering your main concerns (2)(3)(4) like on the use of pesticides, the answer is still to come for ‘it will depend on Member States’ willingness to introduce a ban’. Disappointing decision from the Commission.

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Further informations and contacts:

(1) In 1999, the Agricultural Council in Cardiff adopted specific objectives for agrochemicals in the Council strategy on the environmental integration and sustainable development in the Common Agricultural Policy5, stating “In addition to EU rules to control maximum levels of pesticides in farm produce and measures to reduce the environmental risks of pesticide use (water contamination, deterioration of biodiversity, etc.), further measures should be developed for sensitive areas.” “PPP and biocides should only be used when needed and in accordance with the principle of good plant protection practices.”..
“There is a need further to reduce the risks to the environment from the use of PPP and biocides and to continue to ensure that there are no risks to health in their use.”

(2) According to Eurobarometer 379/2013T on ‘European attitutes towards biodiversity’ the pollution of air and water and man-made disasters threaten biodiversity (96%), and finding that the cause is intensive farming, deforestation and over-fishing (94%).

(3) According to Eurobarometer Survey 314/2009 on European attitudes toward chemicals in consumer products: risk perception of potential health hazards’ EU citizens consider pesticides to be the chemicals posing most risk to the user (70% of respondents, p.6).

(4) According to Eurobarometer Survey 354/2010 on ‘Food Risk issues’, the main concern of EU citizens is the issue of pesticide residues in fruit, vegetables or cereals (72% of respondents, p.15), and increase of 4% from the 2005 survey (Eurobarometer Survey 238/2006).

For further information please contact:

François Veillerette, +32 (0)473 37 56 71, coordinator [at]

© Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe), Rue de la Pacification 67, 1000, Brussels, Belgium, Tel. +32 2 318 62 55

Pesticide Action Network Europe (PAN Europe) gratefully acknowledges the financial support from the European Union, European Commission, DG Environment, LIFE programme. Sole responsibility for this publication lies with the authors and the funders are not responsible for any use that may be made of the information contained herein.