WWF applauds EU Parliament’s vote on pesticide ban for Ecological Focus Areas | WWF

WWF applauds EU Parliament’s vote on pesticide ban for Ecological Focus Areas

Posted on 14 June 2017
Butterfly
© Pixabay
WWF welcomes today’s decision by the European Parliament to ban the use of pesticides in Ecological Focus Areas. This was proposed by the European Commission to protect biodiversity on farmlands.

With this vote the Parliament has corrected the opinion of its Agriculture committee that on 30 May tried to defend the continued use of pesticides in these areas, threatening farmland biodiversity.

Ecological Focus Areas were introduced during the last reform of the Common Agricultural Policy as a prerequisite for farmers to receive “greening payments”. According to these rules, 5% of the arable land of farms above 15 hectares must be primarily devoted to increasing biodiversity in farming areas. WWF highlights that nature has not benefitted much so far from Ecological Focus Areas, with farmers being allowed to maintain agricultural production in them, including the use of pesticides.

Jabier Ruiz, Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems at WWF European Policy Office said: “Banning pesticide use on a small percentage of arable land will not impact overall agricultural production and is the right thing to do to bring back some of the farmland biodiversity we have been losing over the last decades. The EU Parliament's Committee on Agriculture tried to block this improvement over the last few months, showing clearly that they lack environmental awareness, and that they cannot be entrusted with full responsibility in future debates on the Common Agricultural Policy.”

In the recent Public Consultation on the Future of the CAP, more than 250,000 citizens across Europe asked for a more sustainable and healthier agri-food system and a fair agricultural policy. Today’s vote is a positive sign ahead of the next CAP reform, when the EU Commission, Council and Parliament must design a policy that supports a transition to sustainability in Europe’s food and farming system.

WWF is determined to support the development of a new Common Agricultural Policy with greater environmental ambition, which should foster sustainable farming practices and rural communities, and safeguard the planet's natural resources.

NOTES TO THE EDITOR

Today, the EU Parliament failed to achieve the required absolute majority to reject the ban on pesticides on EFAs. As a result the Agriculture Committee resolution against the ban has been rejected.

In May 2017 Living Land, the online campaign launched by WWF, Birdlife Europe and the European Environmental Bureau, mobilised 258,708 citizens and 600 civil society organisations and businesses in the largest EU public consultation on agricultural policy. 

ON ECOLOGICAL FOCUS AREAS

Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs) are one of the requirements to obtain “greening payments”, which constitute 30% of the first pillar budget of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP).They are the cornerstone of the so called “greening” introduced during the last CAP reform to justify and legitimate the CAP budget which represents 40% of the EU budget.

The objective of EFAs is “to safeguard and improve biodiversity on farms”, and this requirement only affects 5% of the arable land of farms above 15 hectares.

The effectiveness of EFAs in delivering the desired objective has been assessed to be very low, largely because of the options made available to farmers, which include maintaining agricultural production and using pesticides in them.

In their draft Delegated Regulation1, DG Agriculture made a laudable attempt to improve the ecological value of EFAs by banning the use of pesticides in them.

Through a resolution agreed in their meeting of 30 May 2017, the EP Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development recommended rejecting this Delegated Regulation.

The Committee linked this debate to the high imports of vegetable protein into the EU. However, it must be underlined that EFAs are meant to safeguard and improve biodiversity on farms, and that support to protein crops is the object of part of coupled payments, another CAP instrument largely implemented across Europe.

Further information:

Stefania Campogianni, Senior Communications and Media Officerscampogianni@wwf.eu, +32 499 539 736

Jabier Ruiz, Senior Policy Officer, Agriculture and Sustainable Food Systems, jruiz@wwf.eu, +32 470 66 81 91