The European Commission has today (Wednesday, June 22) announced proposals to halve the use of chemical pesticides by 2030, and outlined support for farmers to facilitate the transition.

New measures seek to ensure that all farmers apply Integrated Pest Management (IPM), and therefore consider alternative methods before using chemical pesticides.

To support farmers during the transition away from chemical-pesticide use, member states can use the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to cover the costs of farmers, caused by the new requirements, for five years.

Proposals by the commission transform the existing Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive into a regulation, which will be directly applicable in all EU member states.

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Stella Kyriakides said the use of chemical pesticides needs to be reduced to protect our soil, air and food, as well as the health of citizens. She added:

“It is time to change course on how we use pesticides in the EU. This is about the health of our citizens and our planet. Through this proposal, we are delivering on our commitments in the Farm to Fork Strategy, to build a more sustainable and healthy food-production system.”

The proposals made by the commission will now be discussed by the European Parliament and the European Council.

Pesticide-reduction proposals

EU member states will be required to set their own national reduction targets, within defined parameters, to ensure EU targets are achieved. Detailed annual progress and implementation reports must also be submitted to the commission.

Farmers must keep record of their chemical-pesticide use, and establish crop-specific rules with the aim of identifying alternatives to chemical pesticides, the commission proposed.

A package of key policies by the commission aims to increase the range of biological and low-risk alternatives on the market, and accelerate the development of new technologies and techniques.

In 2019, Ireland used 5.97kg of pesticides per hectare of cropland, compared to the EU average of 3.13kg/ha.

The commission also proposed a ban on all pesticides in sensitive areas such as urban green areas; schools; public paths; protected areas; and any ecologically sensitive area to be preserved for threatened pollinators. 

Nature Restoration Law

A Nature Restoration Law has also been proposed by the commission today, which seeks to increase biodiversity in areas including managed forests and agricultural land.

The restoration and rewetting of drained peatlands, under agricultural use and in peat-extraction sites, is also a proposed target by the European Commission.

Legally binding targets for nature restoration will apply to every EU member state, in addition to existing laws. The proposal would also require member states to develop National Restoration Plans.

The commission aims to cover at least 20% of the EU’s land and sea areas with nature restoration measures by 2030; and repair the 80% of EU habitats, that are in poor condition, by 2050.

Around €100 billion will be available for biodiversity spending, including restoration, under the current Multiannual Financial Framework, according to the European Commission.