By Kate Abnett
BRUSSELS (Reuters) -The political party behind the European Parliament’s biggest lawmaker group on Friday opposed two of the EU’s main policies to protect the environment, threatening to block the laws which the group says would hurt European farmers.
In a resolution adopted on Friday, the centre-right European People’s Party (EPP) said it rejected a proposed EU law requiring countries to restore damaged natural ecosystems and another to halve chemical pesticide use by 2030.
“In too many regions or member states the implementation of existing nature legislation has led to a bureaucratic nightmare and planning deadlock, endangering food security, renewable energy production, crucial infrastructure etc,” said the resolution, seen by Reuters.
It urged the European Commission to first help countries address issues caused by existing EU nature laws. The proposed pesticide targets are “simply not feasible” for farmers, it added.
The EPP has the most lawmakers of any group in the European Parliament – 176 out of the assembly’s 705 members. A source from the EPP group said it stood ready to reject the two laws, if its views were not heard.
That could block the policies, if lawmakers from some other groups in the parliament also reject them.
The Commission, which proposed the policies, says restoring soil and habitats’ health is vital to protect farmers’ livelihoods, and cope with increasing climate change impacts like drought.
A Commission spokesperson declined to comment on the EPP resolution, but said it would work with lawmakers and EU countries to address the issues raised.
“The need to reduce the use and risk of chemical pesticides is scientifically clear. Not acting fast enough now, will have long-term and potentially irreversible effects on our food security in the future,” the spokesperson added.
A third of bee and butterfly species in Europe have declining populations, with intensive farming among the drivers of pollinator loss.
The EU has earmarked some cash from its farm subsidy programme to support greener farming measures.
But other proposals to tackle the 10% of EU greenhouse gas emissions produced by agriculture have faced resistance – including emissions limits for livestock farms, which member states are trying to weaken.
(Reporting by Kate Abnett;Editing by Mark Potter and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)