The European Union Agriculture Council has reached political agreement on a regulation proposed last year by the European Commission, aiming to harmonise at the European level the maximum residue levels (MRLs) of pesticides permitted in products of plant and animal origin.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, welcomed the Council’s political agreement.

“Establishing a unified approach at EU-level to pesticide residues will provide significant protection for consumers across Europe. Having the same MRL across the EU can boost consumer confidence by making it clear that for example apples from another country will not have higher levels of pesticide residues than the well known national apples,” Byrne said.

The consequence of the regulation entering into force will be that all MRLs for pesticides will become harmonised after a transitional ‘phase-in’ period, and will in future only be set at the European level. It removes all trade inconsistencies that result from the current situation whereby member states can set their own national MRLs in the absence of EU-wide MRLs.

The regulation will now go to the European Parliament for a second reading with a view to allow it to enter into force in 2005.

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