EU chief Ursula von der Leyen on Tuesday recommended the bloc bury a plan to cut pesticide use in agriculture as a concession to protesting European farmers.
The original proposal, put forward by her European Commission as part of the European Union's green transition, "has become a symbol of polarisation," she told the European Parliament in Strasbourg, France.
Noting that the plan – to halve chemical pesticide use in the EU by the end of the decade – had also stalled in discussions in the parliament and in the European Council representing EU member countries, von der Leyen said she would ask her commission "to withdraw this proposal".
The pesticide issue is just one of a long list of grievances that have prompted a mass protest movement by EU farmers, who in recent weeks have used tractors to block key roads to complain of shrinking income and rising production costs.
With far-right and anti-establishment parties – which are predicted to make significant gains in June's European elections – latching onto the farmers' movement, the environment debate has turned politically explosive.
Last week, 1,300 tractors clogged the area around an EU summit in Brussels, forcing their revolt to the top of the leaders' agenda and resulting in a number of other concessions, especially in France.
"Many of them feel pushed into a corner," von der Leyen acknowledged, adding: "Our farmers deserve to be listened to."
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