The European Parliament yesterday (13 January) voted to restrict the use of toxic pesticides, despite strong opposition from the UK, Spain and Hungary and calls for better evaluation of the legislation’s impact upon agricultural production and food prices.
The package still needs to be formally adopted by the Council, which remains divided over the issue, despite the compromise reached before Christmas (see EURACTIV 19/12/08).
The deal will lead to a ban of a number of hazardous substances that pose a potential threat to human health and the environment, and obliges member states to embrace more sustainable use of pesticides.
The UK, Ireland, Spain and Hungary oppose the deal, claiming that it will seriously affect agricultural production and increase food prices. However, the four countries put together will not be enough to form a blocking minority for a qualified majority vote in the Council, which is likely to adopt the package as an ‘A point’ (adopted without discussion).
“The deal voted yesterday is secure and binding,” said a Council spokeswoman, adding that once the Regulation on pesticide use and market authorisation was published in the Official Journal, it would apply immediately.
But she said the Directive on the sustainable use of pesticides could be considered somewhat “less binding” as a directive can, to some extent, be more freely interpreted and transposed into national law. The directive contains a lot of implementing measures which need to be further specified by means of the comitology procedure, giving opponents the chance to both delay them and water them down.
Those not happy with the deal can also use the opportunity of the mid-term review of the legislation to reopen the issue, particularly in the context of a new College of Commissioners and a new European Parliament.