Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press release - 14 June 2017

Nature wins despite MEP apathy

Today nature won over pesticides…but by default. By not reaching the required majority[1] to approve the resolution by AGRI Committee members Mr. Dess (EPP, DE) and Mr. Agnew (EFDD, UK), the European Parliament automatically supported the European Commission’s delegated act[2] that proposes to ban the use of pesticides in Ecological Focus Areas (EFAs). EFAs are areas where farmers are paid to leave important space for nature in an intensively farmed landscape.

EFAs were introduced as part of the 2013 greening reforms of the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP). Every farmer in the European Union who claims a direct payment from the CAP and has more than 15 hectares of arable land is obliged to have 5% of his arable land covered by EFAs to safeguard and improve biodiversity on farms.

However studies [3] show that EFA measures have failed to protect biodiversity on farms, partly because of the use of pesticides in these areas. With this delegated act the European Commission wants to make things right and give EFA measures a chance to function as intended. We welcome the European Parliament’s recognition of the Commission proposal.

Intensive agriculture and continued abandonment of valuable farmland, directly and indirectly supported by different CAP measures, are driving climatic and environmental destruction, wiping out wildlife and harming public health. Over 250,000 Europeans participated in the European Commission’s public consultation calling for a radical reform of the CAP through the Living Land[4] campaign.

Trees Robijns, Senior EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia said: ”Saved by procedure manual! Even if the majority of MEPs present in the European Parliament voted in favour of pesticides, nature still won. This vote, a brazen display of vested interests over public good, shows that a big part of MEPs are not listening to the hundreds of thousands of people who have repeatedly expressed their support for nature in recent EU public consultations.”

Robijns continues: “Thanks to democratic safeguards, nature won despite MEP apathy. This vote was supposed to be a no-brainer and its result raises huge questions about the future process of reform the CAP” ENDS

For further information, please contact:
Trees Robijns, Senior EU Agriculture and Bioenergy Policy Officer
BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
Tel: +32 478 88 73 02

[1] To reach majority you need 376 votes and today only 363 MEP votes YES to the resolution and 267 voted NO. Thereby the resolution wasn’t adopted and the Commission’s delegated act went through.

[2] The European Commission has proposed, on 15 February 2017, an amendment to the delegated act consisting of several elements (amending Delegated Regulation (EU) No 639/2014 as regards the control measures relating to the cultivation of hemp, certain provisions on the greening payment, the payment for young farmers in control of a legal person, the calculation of the per unit amount in the framework of voluntary coupled support, the fractions of payment entitlements, and certain notification requirements relating to the single area payment scheme and the voluntary coupled support, and amending Annex X to Regulation (EU) No 1307/2013 of the European Parliament and of the Council).
Two members of the Committee for Agriculture, Mr. Dess (EPP, DE) and Mr. Agnew (EFDD, UK), have lodged a resolution for opposition against the whole Commission proposal based on the one element of the ban of pesticides in EFA. The AGRI committee vote went through with 30 in favour, 11 against and 1 abstention.

Briefing: Birdlife Europe and the European Environmental Bureau call on MEPs to choose nature over pesticides in critical vote for European Biodiversity! 

[3] IEEP study Ecological Focus Areas – what are their impacts on biodiversity? 
BirdLife-EEB Briefing: Ecological Focus Area choices and their potential impacts on biodiversity  

[4] Living Land campaign press release 3 May 2017 

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organisations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to deliver high impact and long term conservation for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that compose BirdLife International. Based in Brussels, it supports the European and Central Asian Partnership and is present in 47 countries including all EU Member States. With more than 4100 staff in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of skilled volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 nature sites totalling 320,000 hectares.


Stichting BirdLife Europe gratefully acknowledges financial support from the European Commission. All content and opinions expressed on these pages are solely those of Stichting BirdLife Europe.