Next round in EU debate on pesticide ban
The future of greenkeeping on Europe’s golf courses is being discussed in Brussels this week. The EU Commission is debating its position on the use of chemical pesticides and will vote on Wednesday on which proposal it will use in negotiations with the EU countries. What sounds rather bureaucratically uninteresting at first glance is, on closer inspection, extremely important for golf courses throughout Europe. Ultimately, the question is whether the EU Parliament will stick to its original proposal from 2022, which envisaged a complete ban on pesticides for all “urban areas including parks, playgrounds, recreational areas, public footpaths and Natura 2000 areas”. This includes golf courses and, incidentally, all soccer pitches that are part of the so-called “sensitive areas”.
No adjustment of the ban planned
After reviewing the objections to the original draft, including a joint communiqué from the European Golf Association and UEFA for golf and soccer, the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety has reassessed the situation. However, the changes relate almost exclusively to agriculture, which is the focus of most of the discussion anyway. The Committee continues to call for a complete ban on pesticides for public green spaces. These requirements are to be set out in an ordinance, which would then be “directly binding” according to the current draft.
Deterioration in quality?
In preparation for the EU Commission’s debate, both UEFA and the EGA spoke out in favour of the goal of “drastically reducing the use of chemical pesticides” in a “Turfgrass Sustainability Roadmap 2023 to 2030”. As part of an “impact assessment on the removal of pesticides in the sustainable use of plant protection”, which was also carried out, it is also clear that the sports associations assume that a complete ban on pesticides would lead to a deterioration in the quality of golf courses and soccer pitches, at least in the short and medium term.
At least the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety has not reacted to the two reports by changing its position. The negotiations in the EU Parliament on Tuesday and Wednesday will show whether there will be any adjustments.