Posted on 17/01/09 in European Union
The rules of the use of pesticides in the EU will be considerably tightened – a new regulation prohibits the use of 22 pesticides dangerous to human health and animals. Like so often, one can see that environmental protection can go hand in hand with economic interests: Pesticides endanger bees which pollinate a large amount of food stuffs produced in the EU. Innovation in the fertiliser sector is needed – and an incentive is given by this legislative act.
Proponents describe the legislation as a political “milestone”. However, critical voices have already been raised loudly: The legislation does not go far enough, the interests of the chemicals industry are far too well represented, and an immediate ban of many more pesticides should have been included. This criticalness in environmentalist and consumer protection groups, among ourselves, is vital to the democratic process – nevertheless we should take care that not only they are listened to.
Complete substitution of dangerous pesticides was no possible bargaining outcome. It was also not possible to reach a prompt complete ban of the substances. Yes, this means that there will be pollution in the upcoming years and I don’t agree on that. Only substances dangerous to an extraordinary extent will be done away with – I’d like to see all of them banned. However, I appreciate that some substances will be forbidden. Doing politics is a balancing act.
This is even more so in the current debate going on about the future of the European Union. Even if the Treaty of Lisbon lacks clear statements towards a more social Europe and does not include all changes needed for an overall solution to the Union’s democratic deficit, it includes reforms which the enlarged EU is highly in need of. A solution to all problems at once might not be possible – should this prevent us from going step-wise forward? What would you choose if you were asked in a referendum (what would actually already be an achievement in most countries…)?
Each achievement is a step towards other societal conditions. This however does not mean that we need to accept outcomes like the ones in Poznan – not everything is an achievement.
Seeing little successes as important steps in the right direction however also implies getting active oneself instead of only complaining! There is no “the changes we can achieve are not radical enough”. Let us look beyond the rhetoric of political milestones! There are so many more things in need of reform but we can also tolerate small changes – as intermediate steps.