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Italy and France moving towards a phase out of glyphosate

Glyphosate, the most used herbicide in the European Union was approved for renewal for five years with a qualified majority on November 2017. There are countries such as France or Italy that strongly oppose its use and following this decision at the EU level, Emmanuel Macron stated that glyphosate would be banned in France, showing his disagreement with the extension. The controversy resides on the different results on studies about glyphosate questioning if this pesticide can cause cancer.

However, Macron also said on 25th January that farmers will be exempted from the ban for a period of three years since there is no credible alternative still to this pesticide. While acknowledging the need for research, Macron argued ‘I will never impose an exit if there is no credible alternative’. Yet, farmers state that the period of time given is not long enough to find an environmental and economically efficient solution.

On the meantime, Italy has decided to adopt a law which prohibits the use of glyphosate in the pre-harvest phase in agriculture, as well as the use of some chemicals (particularly Poe-tallowamine) in combination with the herbicide. The law forbids its use in public areas such as parks, gardens and sports fields.  The next step will consist in restricting the import of products from countries that allow the usage of glyphosate in the pre-harvest phase.

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France, a review of CAP is needed

The Common Agricultural Policy (CAP) was created in 1962 and is one of the oldest European policies. From that date, there have been reforms that adapted it to the changes in society. The objectives of CAP are to ensure a stable and sustainable production of food, providing the supply needed at affordable prices, protects farmers and agricultural workers living.

Since the origin of CAP, France was one of the main defendants of this policy that currently takes around a 40% of the EU budget. Traditionally, France has always aimed to maintain its share from CAP subsidies (an amount that goes up to €9 billion),  being the largest net beneficiary of the policy. This being a reflection of the fact that the existence of CAP is mainly due to French politicians who, in 1962 asked for direct payments for french farmers if an European market was going to be established.

However, there has been a recent change in the view of this policy with the new government leaded by the Prime Minister Emmanuel Macron. In September, he already stated that CAP should be reviewed ‘without taboos’ as it was not clear if the policy was having a real effect either for farmers or consumers. This statement provoked a positive reaction in Brussels, Günther Oettinger, European Commissioner for Budget welcomes Macron’s compliance to put CAP under revision.

This new view towards CAP comes along with the acknowledgement both from Brussels and Paris that there are other strategic priorities that need a deeper focus such as defense or education (highlighted by Paris) and security, migration and digital technology. Moreover, it needs to be taken into account that the EU budget dedicated to CAP would be also  affected by Brexit, which will constitute €12 billion annual loss in the 2021-2027 budget.

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