The EU Commission’s proposal to halve the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030 is progressing, with the EU promising to support farmers in the transition

The EU has announced that it will respond to the urgent need to change the course on pesticides, while supporting farmers in their efforts to do so.

“Member States will be able to use the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) to cover the costs of any requirements stemming from the new rules for farmers, including compulsory farming practices imposed under the crop-specific rules for Integrated Pest Management,” the EU Commission stated. “This can compensate for any additional costs and prevent price increases in food. The proposal introduces this exceptional measure for the first five years as the Commission recognises the need to financially support farmers and other users through their transition toward a sustainable use of pesticides.”

The European Commission has put forward new EU rules to make the Farm to Fork target of halving the use and risk of chemical pesticides by 2030 legally binding, while also eradicating their use near schools, hospitals and playgrounds.

Last week, the EU executive launched its proposal for a new Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation, which seeks to turn one of the four targets of the Farm to Fork strategy into legislation for the first time.

This means the rules will be directly binding in all member states, which the Commission hopes will help to tackle the issue of weak and uneven implementation of pesticide rules over the years.

EU member states will equally have to submit yearly progress and implementation reports to the Commission, increasing the EU executive’s oversight.

EU commissioner Stella Kyriakides announced: “To make sure we deliver, member states will set their own national reduction targets within defined parameters to ensure that both EU-wide targets are achieved. These national targets will be legally binding.”

The Commissioner promised farmers a “comprehensive toolbox” in the form of Integrated Pest Management.

“This is an environmentally friendly pest control system, with chemical pesticides used only as a last resort,” she said. “It involves crop-specific rules to be set by member states, showing which alternatives should be used instead of chemical pesticides, along with mandatory record-keeping for farmers and other professional users.”

The EU would remain very active in finding alternatives to chemicals, Kyriakides said.

“We proposed new rules for micro-organisms, so that these biological alternatives reach the farmers faster,” she said. “This proposal is under scrutiny by this Parliament and will be adopted as soon as we have your agreement. The more resources we collectively invest in assessing plant protection products, the more and safer alternatives we will have.”

Executive vice-president of the Commission Frans Timmermans called the laws a step forward in tackling the “looming ecocide” menacing the world.

Around €100bn is reportedly set to be available for spending on biodiversity, including the restoration of ecosystems. The target of 2030 to cut the use of pesticides is considered to be sufficient for farmers to find alternatives, the Guardian reported.

“We need to reduce the use of chemical pesticides to protect our soil, air and food, and ultimately the health of our citizens,” said Kyriakides. “This is not about banning pesticides. This is about making them a last resort measure.”