Building sustainability in European agriculture through the common agricultural policy and sustainable use of pesticides
Abstract: One of the major concerns of the policy makers and society in the process of reforming the Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) is to create the right framework for the development of a sustainable agricultural production. The reformed CAP uses the “greening” constituents of direct payments to enforce essential agricultural practices for environmental and climate. The CAP integrates also other agro-environmental measures through payments in the rural development program to the farmers for the supply of their environmental services. The objectives of the CAP promote good agricultural practices and more specifically, they target to improve farmers’ life in the rural areas, increase biodiversity, protect natural habitats, and support better water management. One of the policy instruments is the Directive for the Sustainable Use of Pesticides (SUD – Dir. 128/2009). The main aim of this regulation as policy instrument is to reduce the risks associated with the use of pesticides by bridging the gap between the agricultural practices applied on a daily basis by the farmers and the theoretical practices assumed by risk assessors when they evaluate if a pesticide is safe for use. SUD includes a requirement to establish a system of indicators which would reflect such progress. OPERA Research Centre has initiated an EU-wide consultation, drawing on experts from the fields of agriculture, industry, trade, academia, environment and consumer protection, to produce a document that supports the transposition process of the Directive and the drafting of National Action Plans (NAPs), following the requirements of the EU. NAP is the tool that transforms EU policy, into an organized set of national actions. The result of this consultation process is a publication that focuses on the proposal of a package of national indicators of risk, practical measures and the potential benefit they have in meeting the objectives of the SUD. Risk Indicators are expected to help national regulatory bodies to assess trends in pesticide risk reduction and to judge the effectiveness of their plans. There is no universal ideal indicator which can be used for pesticide and environmental policy monitoring and evaluation. Therefore, there is a need to select indicators that capture information and trends not directly related to the volume of pesticide used, but that show a significant impact in reducing the risk from pesticide use.