The decision issued on Thursday January 19, 2023 by the Court of Justice of the European Union excludes the use of neonicotinoids for seeds and the right to derogate from the European ban under Article 53 of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 of the European Parliament and of the Council, of 21 October 2009.
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Taking note of the decision, the French Government will not grant a new derogation for 2023.
This decision comes at a time when the Supervisory Board was to meet on January 20 to examine, in the light of scientific data, the possibility of granting a third and final exemption for the use of neonicotinoids for the sugar beet sector, under the law of December 14, 2020.
The objective of the government, since the law of 2020, was to definitively phase out neonicotinoids in 2024.
On the strength of this objective, the government, in conjunction with INRAE, ANSES and technical institutes, had launched a national research and innovation (PNRI) without precedent.
This plan has made it possible to coordinate a major research effort, entirely focused on sugar beet yellows to provide alternative solutions, deployable on the scale of the 400,000 hectare beet plantation and technically and economically viable on the horizon of 2024.
The year 2023 was a pivotal year in this regard.
This sudden decision by the CJEU comes into conflict with a work program established for 3 years and causes legitimate concerns among growers, sugar producers and seed producers about the March 2023 sowing campaign and more generally the future of the sugar beet sector.
Marc Fesneau, Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty, brought together industry professionals from Monday 23 January to discuss the situation with them and build an appropriate action plan that guarantees the sustainability of our industry.
This action plan in support of the entire sugar beet sector, which will be specified in the coming days with the sector and the scientific teams of the PNRI, will be based in particular on the following commitments:
• From the 2023 campaign, and in liaison with professionals, new technical itineraries aimed at protecting the beets, planted this year, will be developed;
• At the same time, all the immediately available solutions resulting from the projects of the national research and innovation plan, in particular companion plants, will be deployed and accelerated by the 2023 sowing horizon, on as much surface area as possible.
The choice will be left to farmers to deploy these tools. The research program will also be accelerated and the resources needed to manage the projects will be increased;
• France will ensure the homogeneity of the application of the CJEU's decision within all the countries of the European Union in order to avoid any distortion prejudicial to the French sector;
• France will trigger a safeguard clause with the European Commission to ensure that seeds, beets and beet sugar imported in 2023 cannot be treated with neonicotinoids;
• In 2023, the State will put in place financial support to support planters, which can be mobilized in the event of loss of yield linked to jaundice. This aid, the technical elements of which will have to be defined quickly, is intended to secure planters and industrialists in this transition.
"Faced with this decision for immediate application in Europe, and while France was engaged in a three-year program of research into alternatives to neonicotinoids which was due to end this year, we must act by lucidly confronting the new deal created by this situation," Marc Fesneau, Minister of Agriculture and Food Sovereignty said.
"And urgently by giving visibility to planters and the entire sector, failing which it could face enormous difficulties. This is the purpose of the action plan presented January 23 to professionals in the sugar beet sector, which bears witness to the urgent mobilization of the government to ensure the sustainability of an agricultural and industrial sector essential to our territories and our economy." ■