The Fifth Environmental Action Programme forms the background of a group of reports studying pesticide problems in the European Union. This "Central Policy Report" is mainly focused on future plant protection policy and integrates the results. Twenty-two instruments, all additional to present policy, have been elaborated in detail. The challenge of the work was to come up with a mix of economically efficient and environmentally active policy instruments. The large variation in conditions and problems within the European Union justifies different regional approaches. Future plant protection will be characterized by advanced technology and crop management with care for the environment and food safety.