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Postponing environmental commitments is not the solution

Updated: Jun 8, 2022

With the explanation of the war in Ukraine, the European Commission postponed the publication of two important legislations: the EU Nature Restoration Law, and the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Regulation (SUR).

The original publication date for the EU Nature Restoration Law was first promised for 2021. Currently, the proposal is said to be presented in June 2022. A legislation that would be unique for the protection of biodiversity at EU level.

The SUR is expected to include legally binding reduction targets in the use of chemical pesticides, in line with the targets of the Farm to Fork Strategy. The first proposal was expected for the end of March 2022.

Currently, the industry and big agri-lobbies are attacking both legislations (leaked version of the SUR) and they are using the war in Ukraine as a tool for it. It just shows that these lobbies will go to any lengths to achieve their goal to protect their profit-making practices and keep farmers dependent on their phytopharmaceutical products.

As pointed out by the think tank IDDRI [1], “what is at stake - at least in the short term - is not Europe's "food sovereignty". Rather, it is Europe's ability to maintain an intensive livestock industry that is competitive in the face of international competition and able to provide consumers with low-cost animal products”. [2]

Frans Timmermans, the Vice President of the European Commission, is convinced that the war in Ukraine should not be used as an excuse to postpone the transition to a more sustainable agriculture, and the only way to reach it is to keep the targets of the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies.

Stopping the transition to sustainable food systems in line with the #FarmToFork and #biodiversity strategies is not the solution, even though some may try to use Russia’s war on Ukraine as a pretext to do so.” [3]

BeeLife points out the importance of bees, pollinators and nature, not only in the agri-food system but also the importance of nature for human mental health and the growing need from citizens for a greener society. Over 1.1 million European citizens are demanding the reduction of synthetic pesticides by 80% by 2030 through the Save Bees and Farmers European Citizens Initiative. [4]

We ask for ambitious steps towards the protection of nature and the sustainable development of food and farming systems. Using the war in Ukraine as an excuse from the agri-lobbies should not be accepted, for pushing an agricultural model that led to environmental and societal devastation.

Francesco Panella, President of BeeLife stated: “We need both the European Commission and EU Member States not to understate and keep postponing these key legislations. Europe urgently need steps in the direction to restore European nature, as this is the only way to mitigate the climate crisis, address the tragic decline of pollinators and biodiversity and to build a resilient and self-robust agricultural system.“

[1] War in Ukraine and food security: what are the implications for Europe? Blog post on 29 March 2022.

[2] Joint open letter: Publication of the revision of the legislation on the sustainable use of pesticides, on 23 March 2022. Link to the document.

[3] Twitter statement of Mr. Frans Timmermans, the Vice President of the European Commission on 29 April 2022.

[4] Save Bees and Farmers European Citizens Initiative


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