MEP Spotlight | Q4: Future of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR)

We’re now less than two weeks away from the European Parliament elections taking place 6-9 June, with only two more questions left for MEPs Paolo De Castro (S&D) and Herbert Dorfmann (EPP). The fourth question – out of the five – reflects on the rejection of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR) by the current Parliament, asking the MEPs whether we should expect the proposed law’s revival by the next Parliament.  

Given the history of the Parliament’s handling of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR), what if any future is there for this legislation and what should the new Parliament and European Commission do to ensure it meets its stated goals of ensuring the sustainable use of pesticides? 

MEP De Castro: 

I think that the rejection of the SUR Regulation, voted by different political groups due to a perceived lack of environmental ambition, represents a missed opportunity for our farmers. Following the presentation of a very ideological and unrealistic proposal from the Commission, the work of the European Parliament managed to rebalance the text, with sufficiently strict provisions, that took into proper consideration all the efforts made by the agricultural sector in the last thirty years in terms of reduction of plant protection products. 

When the discussion on a possible new legislative proposal, being it a Regulation or a Directive, will start, this concept must become one of the key principles: farmers can do and want to do more, however legislators must assess and properly evaluate the achievements reached so far, in order to identify realistic objectives. I think that this point, together with the availability of concrete and effective alternatives, from smart farming to new genomic techniques, will be crucial to ensure the sustainable use of pesticides. 

MEP Dorfmann: 

I strongly opposed the introduction of the Regulation on the Sustainable Use of Pesticides. I believe it is important to reduce the use of pesticides, but I found this proposal misleading, poorly drafted and without a scientific basis. Instead, I am in favour of continuing on the path we have been on for the last few years, with the existing Directive establishing a framework to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides. It has led to significant results in many countries, such as my own, Italy, where the use of pesticides has been reduced by 20% in the last 15 years. 

However, I would like to make it clear that I agree with some elements of the SUR Regulation, such as the importance of introducing a clear definition of Integrated Pest Management at European level and of introducing a clear distinction between advisory services and the production and sale of pesticides.

For journalists wishing to use the MEPs’ quotes or other materials from this post, we kindly ask for you to reference the European Crop Care Association (ECCA) as the source.