The Council of Ministers approved an export ban on prohibited pesticides on Friday. The policy was first proposed by Federal Environment Minister, Zakia Khattabi.
The aim of this Royal Decree is to ban the export of certain hazardous substances from Belgium to non-EU countries. Certain harmful pesticides, although banned or strictly regulated on the European market, were freely sold abroad.
Every year, the European Union exports thousands of tonnes of highly harmful substances that it bans on its own soil. Belgium is one of the main exporters. For Zakia Khattabi, this is hypocritical.
"If these products are banned from the European market today, it's precisely because their use is so harmful to all three dimensions of health: human, animal and environmental. It goes without saying that what's no good here is no good elsewhere," the Minister said.
Zakia Khattabi says that the ban is a measure against double standards and part of her pledge towards environmental protection and social justice.
"With globalisation, the boomerang effect means that European consumers are ultimately exposed to these substances, which end up on their plates," Khattabi said. The Minister pointed to an analysis carried out in 2020 by PAN Europe which revealed that 74 banned substances were found in 5,800 food samples analysed in the EU.
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The Minister says that exporting banned pesticides also leads to market mismatches and unfair competition, as European farmers can no longer use these substances. With this decree, Belgium becomes the second EU country, after France, to introduce such a ban.
The text contains two annexes: the first lists dangerous substances for which all uses are banned within the EU and for which all exports will be prohibited, while the second lists dangerous substances for which certain uses are still authorised.
With this decree, Belgium is now well equipped to argue in favour of a European ban as part of the EU's Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability.