The proposal to regulate pesticides within the European Union was put on hold by the executive arm, yielding to pressure from farmers who had staged protests across the bloc.
Despite lingering in EU institutions for the past two years, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen has announced the decision to prioritise agricultural interests over environmental concerns.
Farmers say that measures like those concerning pesticides would only exacerbate bureaucratic hurdles. They argue that it’s keeping them tied to administrative tasks instead of working in the fields, and widening the price gap between their products and cheaper imports from foreign farmers facing fewer regulatory burdens.
Addressing the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France, von der Leyensaid “Farmers need a worthwhile business case for nature-enhancing measures. Perhaps we have not made that case convincingly.”
The timeline for revising the proposals remains uncertain, particularly as EU parliamentary elections loom in June, with farmers’ concerns taking center stage in political campaigns, overshadowing climate-related issues in recent weeks.
The decision to table the pesticide proposal marks the EU’s latest attempt at appeasement in response to widespread protests that disrupted the lives of millions of EU citizens and incurred significant economic losses due to transportation disruptions.
In a separate move, von der Leyen announced plans to protect farmers from cheaper imports from Ukraine and allow some previously fallow land to be used. However, environmentalists fear that these concessions may extend to other areas, including measures aimed at combating climate change.
Amid ongoing protests in various EU nations, including recent demonstrations in the Netherlands involving road blockades and property damage, governments have responded with financial support packages to address farmers’ demands. In France alone, over 400 million euros in additional funding has been promised. In recent weeks, farmers have also protested in Poland, Greece, Ireland, Germany, Lithuania, and other European countries.
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