Europe and Central Asia

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia Press Release 30 May 2017

Poison Pen: AGRI Committee signs off on pesticides over nature

This morning, the AGRI committee of the European Parliament has blocked the ‘delegated regulation’ proposing to ban the use of pesticides in Ecological Focus Areas, areas that are dedicated to nature conservation. MEPs Dess and Agnew successfully lodged an objection to the proposal, which was supported in a vote at AGRI committee with 30 votes in favour, 11 against and 1 abstention. The proposal from the European Commission was intended to strengthen a weakness in the current rules, and to justify the many billions of Euro that are spent on this key farming policy. As part of the subsidy regime to farmers, and in order to access the ‘green direct payment’, some farmers must dedicate a modest 5% of their land to conserve biodiversity.

The MEPs maintain that they are objecting on principle because the European Commission has bundled 14 separate amendments to the delegated regulations in one act. However, it is clear that they disagree with only one of these amendments – the ban of pesticides on EFAs.

Despite the recent citizens’ call for CAP reform – in which over 250,000 people have asked the Commission to stand up for a Living Land [1] – MEPs have not listened. This makes it all the more clear that such important legislation on the future of our food and farming system should be discussed by all relevant committees in Parliament and not solely amongst those who benefit most from the existing policy.

Thomas Quinn, EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia:The absurdity of allowing the use of pesticides in areas that are designated for nature conservation is blatantly apparent to everyone other than those who voted for it in the AGRI committee. Europe spends billions of Euros to have ‘Ecological Focus Areas’ across our farmland, and the AGRI committee seems determined to prevent them from living up to their name.”

Trees Robijns, Senior EU Agriculture Policy Officer, BirdLife Europe & Central Asia: It is clear that the AGRI committee cannot be entrusted to ensure the greening of the CAP. We call for shared decision making responsibility on all issues that touch our food and farming system with all relevant committees, especially the “Environment, Public Health and Food Safety committee”. We need not just a better policy, but an improved decision making process. At a time where faith in European institutions is perilously low, we need this more than ever.



For further information, please contact:
Thomas Quinn, EU Agriculture Policy Officer

BirdLive Europe & Central Asia

++32 2 238 50 91


Trees Robijns, Senior EU Agriculture Policy Officer

BirdLife Europe & Central Asia

+32 478 88 73 02


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 vote went through with 30 in favour, 11 against and 1 abstention. It is likely that the plenary vote will take place in the week of the 12th June.

A report last year by the IEEP, concluded that the performance of ‘Ecological Focus Areas’ could be considerably improved by banning the use of pesticides. For the report itself, click here. And for our media briefing on this report, click here.

[1] Living Land is a campaign that rallied over 250,000 Europeans to call on the EU Commission to radically reform EU agriculture. For more information, click here

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.