The Expert Group on Plant Protection Products is responsible for legislation on plant protection procedures contained in Annex II the EEA Agreement.
On 1 June 2015, an EEA Joint Committee Decision (JCD) to extend EU plant protection rules to Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway entered into force. The aim of the Plant Protection Products Package is to strengthen the enforcement of human health and environmental legislation. This article will provide an insight into the new approval system for plant protection products (PPPs) and the new requirements related to sustainable use of PPPs, and how the EEA EFTA States will cooperate with the European Union once the legislation has been transposed into national law.
PPPs are used to protect crops against insects, pests or other organisms that may be harmful to plants. They are primarily used in the agricultural sector, but also in forestry, horticulture and amenity areas, as well as in home gardens. However, as PPPs are used to kill unwanted pests, they can also be harmful to human health and to the environment. It is therefore important to strictly regulate the marketing and use of PPPs.
EEA EFTA exemption in 1992
The EU has taken several steps to harmonise the rules on the use of PPPs. The first legislation to regulate the marketing of PPPs in the EU was adopted in 1991 with the aim of fully protecting human health, animal health and the environment. It put forward a system for approving any active substances used in plant protection at EU level.
During the negotiations on the EEA Agreement, which was signed the following year, the EEA EFTA States obtained a derogation from this legislation. At the time, the EU rules were considered by the EEA EFTA States to be more lenient than their own. It was therefore in their interest to maintain stricter national legislation on PPPs, rather than to introduce the EU rules.
Improvements at EU level
Since the first EU legislation on plant protection was adopted in 1991, important developments have taken place at EU level to further secure human health and protection of the environment. In 2009, the EU adopted several legal acts on PPPs. This development meant that EU legislation in the field of PPPs improved significantly and the need for the EEA EFTA States to maintain a derogation was therefore reconsidered. Consequently, the EU legal acts from 2009 were incorporated into the EEA Agreement in September 2014.
The Plant Protection Products Package introduces several changes. The legislation aims to harmonise, as far as possible, the overall arrangements for the authorisation of PPPs within the EEA.
A significant development introduced by the new package is the division of the EEA’s territory into three geographical zones. Member States within each zone have comparable conditions (agricultural, plant health, environmental and climatic) in order to facilitate mutual recognition. Zone A consist of northern Europe (including Iceland and Norway), Zone B consist of central Europe (including Liechtenstein) and Zone C consists of southern Europe.
For more information see the European Commission website.