European Green Deal: ENVI Committee Meetings, 24/05/2023

by Lorenza Contin

The Committee on Environment, Public Health, and Food Safety (ENVI)’s meetings of May 24, 2023, concerned several pieces of legislation key to achieving goals of the European Green Deal. Some critical discussions covered the sustainable use of plant protection products (‘Farm to Fork’ strategy) and the reduction of industrial emissions (EU Industrial Strategy). 

Proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products 

June last year, the Commission submitted a proposal of sustainable use of pesticides (SUR), which would repeal the Sustainable Pesticide Use Directive (SUD, Directive 2009/128/EC) [1]. This replacement would set uniform reduction targets in all the Member States. 

In the text,the Commission proposes a 50% reduction in the use of chemical plant protection products. There are greater reductions for “more hazardous pesticides”, which contain particularly dangerous substances, defined in Annex II(4) of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 [2]. 

The report targets as defined by the ENVI rapporteur, Sarah Wiener (Verts/ALE), were raised to at least 50% for chemical pesticides and 80% for more hazardous pesticides. This would imply a higher reduction in their use by the farmers, and thus stronger national measures and incentives towards integrated pest management (IPM). The latter is an approach based on limiting the use of pesticides by resorting to agroecological options, like crop rotation [3].

In terms of ‘ecologically sensitive areas’, namely those exempted from the reduction targets because the lands are in need of pesticides, the rapporteur narrowed down their definition: Ms. Wiener excluded nitrate-sensitive lands and nationally protected areas which are preserved for unrelated reasons, like aesthetic ones.

During the committee’s meeting, Ms. Wiener opened the consideration of the 2959 SUR amendments received, by calling attention to the divergence of opinions. While highlighting the unsatisfactory character of the Commission’s proposal, she criticised the obstructionism performed by some colleagues through proposals for rejection of SUR. She emphasised the need to make agriculture fit for the future by reducing pesticides, while incentivising farmers to switch to IPM methods.

The shadow rapporteurs then exchanged their views, revealing a deep division between political groups in favour and against SUR: 

Mr. Bernhuber (EPP) presented his concerns on the insufficiency of data in the impact assessment behind the Commission’s proposal, specifically from a food security perspective. He also mentioned the bureaucratic red tape imposed on farmers by the draft. Other members of EPP would demonstrate their opposition to SUR by stressing the counterproductive effects of a still too inflexible ban on pesticides vis-à-vis sensitive areas. 

Mr. Vondra (ECR) and Ms. Limmer (ID) supported Mr. Bernhuber’s claims and focused on terminology in the proposal. Mr. Vondra pointed out that not only chemical pesticides but all pesticides should comply with protection measures. Some of the most toxic substances are naturally occurring, hence non-chemical.  

On the other hand, Ms. Arena (S&D) exposed several arguments in support of SUR, drawing from a meeting with experts and farmers. Although stressing the importance of maintaining flexibility in pesticides’ reduction, depending on the plants and territories considered, and of creating IPM incentives, she affirmed that the concerns above were not shared by the growers. 

To complement this reasoning, Mr. Wallace (The Left) referred to scientific reports showing that the ‘biodiversity crisis, and not SUR, is the real risk for food security’. Mr. Huitema (Renew) also expressed their support. However, in the case of Renew this is conditional upon low-risk alternatives to pesticides and a speeding up of the authorisation procedures for new products and breeding techniques. 

The Commission was represented by Mr. Owen-Griffiths. He made clear that the concerns raised by the first group, including administrative burden and food security impacts, will be addressed in a Commission’s study to be completed by June 28. For instance, he mentioned digital tools as a solution to the bureaucratic workload issue. Regarding sensitive areas, a nuanced approach was already advanced in their non-paper 2022/0196(COD).

New directive on industrial emissions and Industrial Emissions Portal regulation

In the afternoon session, ENVI members adopted two draft reports. Kanev Radan (EPP) was the rapporteur for both. The first, extending the scope of the industrial emissions directive (IED, 2010/75/EU) to more farms, mines, and large installations manufacturing batteries, was adopted with 55 votes in favour, 26 against, and 5 abstentions. The regulated installations are only allowed to operate after having received a permit, granted by national authorities on the basis of  Best Available Techniques (BAT) [4]. According to the new IED, the competent organisations should set emission limits ‘at the strictest level of the BAT for the specific installation’. The second report, on a regulation establishing an Industrial Emissions Portal accessible to citizens to verify all EU permits and polluting activities, was adopted with 77 votes in favour, 3 against, and 5 abstentions. 


[1] Vivienne Halleux, Proposal for a regulation on the sustainable use of plant protection products,–-revision-of-the-eu-rules, accessed on May 29, 2023. 
[2] Farm to Fork targets – Progress,, accessed on May 29, 2023.  
[3] Integrated Pest Management (IPM),, accessed on May 29, 2023. 
[4] Thomas Haahr, Pollution: MEPs support stricter rules to reduce industrial emissions,, accessed on May 29, 2023.
Categories EU - Current Affairs

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