Table of Contents:


Outline of the Community (European Union) legislation about Pesticides


These categories group together and put in context the legislative and non-legislative initiatives which deal with the same topic.

Food safety > Contamination and environmental factors


Document or Iniciative

Directive 2009/128/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for Community action to achieve the sustainable use of pesticides.


Pesticides are used in agriculture, to regulate the growth of plants on non-agricultural land, or for other purposes (for example, biocide products used to preserve wood, as disinfectants, and for some domestic uses). They are also used to kill or combat pests.


This Framework Directive covers only pesticides which are plant protection products. It does not apply to biocide products.

Member States may apply the precautionary principle to restrict or prohibit the use of pesticides in specific circumstances or areas.

National Action Plans

National Action Plans shall contain objectives, measures and timetables to reduce risks of pesticide use on human health and the environment. They should also foster the use of alternative ecological approaches or techniques.

National Action Plans shall also include indicators to monitor the use of plant protection products containing active substances of particular concern.

Training, sales of pesticides, and information

Member States shall set up systems of training for professional users, distributors and advisors. This training shall be sanctioned by the obtaining of a certificate. These certificates shall attest that professional users, distributors and advisors have acquired sufficient knowledge regarding: the legislation in force, the dangers and risks associated with pesticides, means of detection and monitoring, procedures for preparing equipment, emergency action in case of accident, etc.

Persons selling pesticides for professional use must hold the aforementioned certificate.

Member States shall inform the public and promote information and awareness-raising programmes regarding the risks for human health, non-target organisms and the environment arising from pesticide use.

Inspection of pesticide application equipment

Pesticide application equipment used by professionals must be inspected every five years by bodies designated by Member States. From 2020, the frequency of inspections will increase to once every three years. The purpose of these inspections is to check that equipment functions reliably and that it is used properly for its intended purpose, ensuring that pesticides can be accurately dosed and distributed.

These inspections concern the following equipment: power transmission parts, pumps, agitation devices, tanks, measuring systems, control and regulation systems, pipes and hoses, filters, etc.

Aerial spraying of pesticides

The aerial spraying of pesticides is prohibited. Derogations are nevertheless possible where there is no viable alternative, or where aerial spraying has advantages in terms of reduced impacts on human health and the environment as compared with land-based application. If a derogation is granted, measures must be taken as regards information and protection.

Protection of the aquatic environment and drinking water

Member States shall adopt specific measures to protect the aquatic environment and drinking water supplies. These measures give priority to the use of the least toxic products, the most effective techniques, equipment limiting drift of products, and the establishment of buffer zones along surface waters. These measures also aim at reducing or prohibiting spraying near roads or railways, or surfaces likely to be contaminated by the seepage or run-off of surface water or groundwater.

Protection of sensitive areas

In certain sensitive areas, the use of pesticides is prohibited or strictly limited. This measure aims at protecting areas covered by the “Birds” and “Habitats” Directives, and areas used by the general public or by sensitive groups of the population (parks, public gardens, sports grounds, recreation grounds, etc.).

Integrated pest management

Integrated pest management prioritises the least dangerous solutions for health and the environment. Professionals must therefore take into consideration all plant protection methods in order to eradicate pests. They must in particular give priority to those which cause the least disruption to agricultural ecosystems and encourage natural pest control mechanisms. These general principles for integrated pest management will become obligatory from 1 January 2014.

Risk indicators

The Commission establishes harmonised indicators according to statistics collected by the Member States. These indicators allow trends in risks from pesticide use to be estimated.

Member States may use their own national indicators in addition to the indicators harmonised at Community level.


The Framework Directive was originally one of two legislative proposals accompanying the 2006 Communication – A thematic strategy on the sustainable use of pesticides. The other legislative proposal led to the adoption of Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products on the market.


Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Directive 2009/128/EC



OJ L 309 of 24.11.2009

This summary is for information only. It is not designed to interpret or replace the reference document, which remains the only binding legal text.

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