The proposed rules have been marked by disagreement between the European Parliament, which wants much stricter rules, and the Council of Ministers, which takes a softer line.
On Wednesday night, after extensive discussion between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission, a compromise to the proposals was hammered out. However the compromise falls far short of British demands.
The environment committee of the Parliament had said that it would largely accept the position of the Council, however it suggested a series of amendments, which would have outlawed many common agents.
On Wednesday, the council accepted almost all the Council's amendments, although it did make some concessions, on proposals which could effectively have outlawed pyrethroids. Under the initial amendments, a pesticide with any immunotoxic or neurotoxic properties would effectively be banned. The accepted amendment has moderated this position.
The NFU has reacted angrily to the agreement. NFU Plant Health Adviser Paul Chambers hit back at the EU, accusing it of using ‘poor science' and making rules that could leave farmers without any weapons for combating some kinds of pests.
The NFU is trying to arrange meetings with MEPs to express their strong feelings. However, because of the Christmas holidays, it may be difficult to do this before the formal plenary vote of the MEPs takes place in early January.