The sustainable use of pesticides and a carbon removal certification scheme will be placed front and centre of the European Commission’s agricultural priorities next year, according to a leaked draft version of its 2022 work programme seen by EURACTIV.
The programme, dated 27 September, sets out the list of actions the Commission will prioritise over the coming twelve months.
According to the draft document, a key focus is the overhaul of the sustainable use of pesticides directive.
The directive, adopted in 2009, aims to reduce the risks and the impacts of pesticide use on human health and the environment but has been criticised for its poor implementation in the majority of member states.
As outlined in the Commission’s flagship food policy, the Farm to Fork strategy, the Commission aims to revise the directive to bring it in line with the objectives of the European Green Deal in a way that helps meet the target of slashing the use and risk of chemical pesticides in half.
The adoption of the revision was originally earmarked for March of next year but, according to the leaked programme, this will now take place in May 2022.
This will follow the publication of a roadmap and the launch of public consultation before November 2021.
The overhaul of the pesticide directive will be included in the framework of a Zero Pollution Package together with the revision of the EU’s air quality legislation.
The draft work programme highlights that this is currently “impossible to say” whether this policy initiative will result in a heavier burden on stakeholders given that policy options have not yet been decided on.
However, it concludes that overall, the Commission expects “an increase in the administrative costs.”
“Administrative costs and other costs for the different policy options will be assessed for different stakeholders, including farmers and other economic operators,” the programme reads.
Ways to minimise costs will be explored, the document promises, offering the example of digitalisation.
“Trade-offs between administrative burden for operators and positive health and environmental benefits exist and will be taken into account in the analysis,” it states.