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The main EU institutions are closed for August but will return to a long list of legislative proposals and discussion in September. According to Damien O’Reilly, ICOS EU Affairs Manager, there will be a rush to sign off on various legislative proposals before the June 2024 EU Parliament elections.

“The EU Parliament and EU Commission are all but shut for the summer break. But once they return in September, there are several Commission proposals set for a showdown which will have a significant impact on agriculture. For example, the controversial Nature Restoration Law which divided politicians is now in trialogue with a final agreement expected before Christmas.”

Autumn will also see discission and voting in relation to wide ranging animal welfare legislation. Limits on journey time, journey conditions and age and weight of unweaned calves will all be in scope with Ireland watching on closely considering its dependence on live exports.

“Sustainable Use Regulation restricting the use of pesticides is a core part of the EU Farm to Fork policy. It is proving controversial with arguments against the limits at a time when food security is under threat due to war and weather. MEPs will have committee votes and a full plenary vote in November with the proposal aiming to cut pesticide use by 50% by 2030,” Damien O’Reilly said.

Not unconnected is the approval of Glyphosate use. Based on recommendations from the European Food Safety Authority, the Commission is now in talks with member states with the view of renewing the approval of Glyphosate which is due to run out in December.

While not a big issue across Europe, for many Irish dairy farmers their eyes are only focussed on the Nitrates Derogation review. Damien O’Reilly noted, “Over the next few weeks, Ireland faces an uphill battle to convince the EU Commission not to revise the stocking rate from 250kg N/ha to 220kg N/ha affecting around 7,000 farmers.” A decision on that is expected in early October.

“There are two important trade agreements on the table which are proving problematic from an Irish farming perspective. A deal with the Mercorsur countries is on a knife edge. Germany, who want to sell cars to the South Americans tariff free, along with the Spanish presidency are pushing for a deal but other countries like France, Austria, Netherlands, and Ireland are worried about tariff free beef imports. COPA COGECA, the European farm lobby also has big concerns, forming a rare alliance with some eNGO’s who are also against Mercorsur because of the potential further destruction of rain forests,” said Mr. O’Reilly.

A Free Trade Agreement with Australia is also on ice, again over agricultural product volumes coming into the EU. The EU wants access to Australia’s raw materials such as lithium and cobalt. In return, Australia want market access for beef, sheepmat and sugar. Negotiations are continuing.

“There are a myriad of other policy and legislation proposals intertwined with the broader aims of the EU Green Deal. Reducing food waste, improving soil quality, mitigating against greenwashing and improved food labelling are all set for decisions or kicks for touch as the life of this parliament and EU Commission come to an end. Its going to be busy.”