Ursula von der Leyen, the President of the European Commission, has decided to withdraw a proposal aimed at reducing pesticide use by half across the European Union (EU). This decision appears to be a concession to farmers who have been protesting against such regulations in several EU nations. Farmers argue that such a reduction would negatively affect their crops and jeopardize food production in the EU.
Von der Leyen acknowledged the concerns of farmers and emphasized that the issue of pesticide use still needs to be addressed. The original proposal, which was part of the EU’s Green Deal to combat climate change, also included banning pesticides in public parks, gardens, schools, and sports fields. The European Parliament had rejected this plan in November.
While the decision to withdraw the proposal has been welcomed by some, including the European farmers’ lobby COPA-COGECA, others like Green MEP Bas Eickhout have criticized the move and urged for a new plan to reduce pesticide use.
The EU is under increasing pressure from member states to revise its approach to climate change amidst growing farmer protests. It has also recommended a 90% reduction in net greenhouse gas emissions by 2040 compared to 2015 levels, but has eased specific demands on the agricultural sector.
The EU’s concessions to farmers also include delaying rules that require them to leave parts of their land unused for environmental protection. However, protests continue with farmers in Spain and Bulgaria demanding more flexibility from the EU, stricter controls on non-EU produce, and increased government support. Greek farmers are also considering blocking key roads to pressurize their government into meeting their demands.