Thursday

23rd Feb 2017

Ban on bee-killing pesticides postponed

  • Some 2.5 million people signed an Avaaz petition to protect bees. (Photo: Andreas.)

A ban on bee-killing pesticides was postponed on Friday (15 March) when member state experts failed to agree on a binding decision to end their use.

“The text was not adopted and now we’ll have to reflect on what to do,” Frederic Vincent, the commission's health spokesperson, told this website.

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

The European commission proposed in January to ban three nenicotinoids found to affect the health of Europe’s dwindling bee population.

The commission’s proposal followed a report by the EU’s food watchdog European Food Safety Authority (EFSA). It identified a number of risks posed to bees by three neonicotinoid insecticides.

Most member states voted in favour of the ban but the qualified majority threshold needed to make it binding was not met.

Five member states abstained, including the UK, Germany and Bulgaria, while nine countries, including Romania, Hungary and Finland, voted against the ban.

The Brussels-executive can either refer a revised proposal back to a formal committee for review or send the original text to an appeals committee within two months.

“If again we are stuck with no qualified majority in the appeals committee, just like GMOs, the commission can itself adopt a regulation,” said Vincent.

The appeal vote would still need a qualified majority but this time against the proposal.

"If it fails to reach that, the proposal will be implemented and members cannot challenge it," the New-York-based campaign group, Avaaz, told this website.

But pro-environment advocates say big industry will attempt to water down the proposal.

“The scientific evidence is clear, but pesticides companies like Syngenta and Bayer will continue to lobby to delay a ban as much as possible,” said Greenpeace EU agriculture policy director Marco Contiero in a statement.

Meanwhile, a number of member states, including Germany, say they favour the ban but with conditions.

Germany, along with other member states, wanted exemptions on the basis that the nenicotinoids kill the bees only when mixed with airborne particles of dust.

An EU diplomat close to the issue told this website Germany has demonstrated a technique that ‘glues’ the nenicotinoids onto the seeds and prevents them from ever going airborne.

The seeds are treated with an adhesive agent that makes it dust-free and abrasion-resistant, he noted. They are then sowed with a special machine to ensure the agents remain bound to the seed.

The dissenting member states wanted the commission to revise its proposal with the technical exemption.

The commission, for its part, refused but had included other exemptions that would allow member states to spray the pesticide directly onto the leaves when mixed with water either before or after the plant has blossomed.

“That is something that we really do not understand,” said the EU diplomat.

EU to ban bee-killing pesticides

The European Commission will push ahead with its original plan to place a two-year ban on pesticides thought to kill bees.

Column / Crude World

Nord Stream 2: The elephant in the room

The European Commission should provide a thorough impact assessment of Nord Stream 2, a project that appears to go against all of its Energy Union objectives.

News in Brief

  1. Report: Commission gauging EU support for Poland sanctions
  2. Irish PM expected to quit amid police scandal
  3. After Brexit vote, 100,000 UK firms registered in Ireland
  4. Bayrou to support Macron in French presidential election
  5. British by-election tests Ukip strength after Brexit
  6. Romanian parliament buries controversial corruption decree
  7. Dozens drown off Libyan coast
  8. EU ministers approve anti-tax avoidance directive

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Malta EU 2017Economic Governance: Agreement Reached on Structural Reform Support Programme for Member States
  2. Socialists & DemocratsWomen Have to Work Ten Years Longer to Match Lifetime Earnings of Men
  3. Counter BalanceTrans-Adriatic Pipeline Is a Major Risk for Banks, Warns New Analysis
  4. Martens CentreEU and US Migration Policies Compared: Join the Debate on February 28th
  5. Swedish EnterprisesTechnology and Data Flows - Shaping the Society of Tomorrow
  6. UNICEFNearly 1.4 Million Children at Risk of Death as Famine Looms Across Africa and Yemen
  7. Malta EU 2017End of Roaming Fees: Council Reaches Agreement on Wholesale Caps
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Innovation House Opens in New York to Help Startups Access US Market
  9. Centre Maurits CoppietersMinorities and Migrations
  10. Salzburg Global SeminarThe Child in the City: Health, Parks and Play
  11. UNICEFNumber of Ukrainian Children Needing Aid Nearly Doubles to 1 Million Over the Past Year
  12. Centre Maurits CoppietersThe Situation of Refugee Women in Europe