Smith Welcomes More Ammunition On Pesticides Battle

23 September 2008
Scotland's only full member of the European Parliament's Agriculture Committee Mr Alyn Smith has today (Tuesday) welcomed the publication of a partial impact assessment produced by Scottish and UK civil servants predicting the impact across the EU should the pesticides proposals currently being debated by the parliament be adopted in their current form.

This five page dossier (attached) produced by the Pesticides Safety Directorate of the UK Health and Safety Executive attempts to predict the effect of the package on other EU countries, and highlights concern that other EU states are not fully aware of the potential implications of the package. Smith has also republished a Parliamentary Question which he lodged some weeks ago to highlight the lack of an adequate impact assessment.

Smith had also invited the European Parliament's draftswoman to Scotland to discuss the proposals, though she has sadly had to decline due to pressure of work.

Smith said:

"The fight goes on over the pesticides dossier, and while I do think there is movement in the debate every bit of pressure helps, and I'm glad that this paper has been produced to give other MEPs an inkling of what this package could actually mean for Europe's agriculture.

"My Parliamentary Question should also go some way to pressure the Commission to address the inadequate assessment undertaken almost two years ago. While the aims of the pesticides legislation are laudable enough in themselves, having spoken to farmers and growers the length and breadth of Scotland I am firmly of the view that this package will just not do what it says on the tin and accidentally make life more difficult for farmers and food more expensive for consumers.

"It is a shame that Hiltrud Breyer could not come to Scotland, but in fairness I have no doubt she has plenty of work to do on this issue. I will continue to work with her and other colleagues across the Chamber to ensure a workable compromise when the Environment Committee comes to vote on this dossier in October."

Mr Smith's Parliamentary Question is below.

"The Commission will be well aware that under the Better Regulation principles any legislative proposal must be thoroughly assessed in terms of regulatory impact and the affect that the measure will have on the lives of those affected by it. This should ensure that those citizens should be able to contribute to the process of lawmaking and lawmakers can legislate with a proper cognisance of the implications of their decisions.

"On occasions however the negotiations over a particular dossier are so complicated as to render any impact assessment as effectively redundant, and to render the Better Regulation agenda as something of a cosmetic exercise. An example is the dossier on plant protection products currently under consideration in the Parliament and under close negotiation in the Council and the Commission. The Commission is aware of widespread concern amongst farmers in Scotland and elsewhere that the practical impact of this legislation will considerably reduce Europe's growing potential at a time of global food price inflation. Would the Commission agree that the impact assessment number SEC(2006) 931 published on 12 July 2006 is now effectively redundant?

"If so would the Commission agree that before the Parliament as co-legislator can proceed with this dossier an updated and fuller assessment should be carried out and outline plans to thoroughly assess the social, economic and practical implications of this legislation; and if not would the Commission detail how the initial regulatory impact assessment from over two years ago can still be valid?"