Friday

20th Jan 2017

EU to ban bee-killing pesticides

  • European Commission is set to impose a temporary ban on pesticides thought to kill off bees (Photo: Brad Smith)

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

Tonio Borg, the EU commissioner for health, pledged in Brussels on Monday (29 April) “to do my utmost to ensure that our bees, which are so vital to our ecosystem and contribute over €22 billion annually to European agriculture, are protected.”

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 Brussels executive will propose a text in the coming weeks to restrict the use of three neonicotinoids: clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam.

Restrictions will start on 1 December but with exceptions in place for bee-attractive crops in greenhouses and in open-air fields only after flowering. The commission will review the ban after two years.

The majority of European food crops depend on insect pollination.

But beekeepers have reported a large decline in the bee population over the past ten to 15 years.

Western Europe is particularly affected, says the commission, with colony losses spotted in France, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, the UK, the Netherlands, Italy and Spain.

A study by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in January said the three pesticides were probably toxic to bees.

Most member states agreed with the EFSA assessment but were unable to come to a qualified majority needed in March for the commission to launch its ban.

A second round of votes on Monday also failed to get a qualified majority, but the indecision among member states for a second time means the commission is now able to push ahead with the ban anyway.

According to environmental NGO Greenpeace, France, Germany, Spain and 12 other countries voted Yes. But Italy, the UK and six others voted No, while four countries, including Finland and Greece, abstained.

Global campaign organisation Avaaz had campaigned for the ban for the past two years and managed to obtain some 2.6 million signatures.

The group says the civil society pressure helped turn around Spain and Germany which both opposed the ban. Germany had abstained from voting in the first round in March but now voted for it.

“Thankfully, some of the reticent EU governments responded to pressure from civil society and EU citizens by not blocking the proposals today, as had been feared following misleading lobbying from the insecticide industry,” said the Green environment and food safety spokesperson, Belgian Green MEP Bart Staes.

The news was not welcomed from pro-industry groups.

The Brussels-based European Crop Protection Association (ECPA) said independent studies have demonstrated that neonicotinoid insecticides, when used correctly, have no affect on bee populations.

“The scientific basis for such a decision is poor, as the EFSA evaluation was inconclusive and needed to address perceived data gaps to better determine the potential risks,” said ECPA president Friedhelm Schmider in a statement.

Focus

A world without waste

A garbage crisis in Naples, Italy, gave birth to the "zero waste" movement, but is the rest of Europe brave enough to change the way it thinks about trash?

News in Brief

  1. Report: Hollande thinking of EU council bid
  2. Italy to hold 70% of Monte dei Paschi bank
  3. Nato hit by 500 cyberattacks every month
  4. Hundreds of migrants face German security review
  5. Outgoing US vice-president warns Europe on Russia
  6. German far-right party calls for end to WWII guilt
  7. First Chinese freight train arrives in Europe
  8. Europe has no vision, says Italian minister

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Caritas EuropaEU States to Join Pope Francis’s Appeal to Care for Migrant Children
  2. UNICEFNumber of Unaccompanied Children Arriving by sea to Italy Doubles in 2016
  3. Nordic Council of Ministers"Nordic Matters" Help Forge Closer Bonds Between the UK and the Nordic Region
  4. Computers, Privacy & Data ProtectionThe age of Intelligent Machines: join the Conference on 25-27 January 2017
  5. Martens CentreNo Better way to Lift Your Monday Blues Than to Gloss Over our Political Cartoons
  6. Dialogue PlatformThe Gulen Movement: An Islamic Response to Terror as a Global Challenge
  7. European Free AllianceMinority Rights and Autonomy are a European Normality
  8. Swedish EnterprisesHow to Create EU Competitiveness Post-Brexit? Seminar on January 24th
  9. European Jewish CongressSchulz to be Awarded the European Medal for Tolerance for his Stand Against Populism
  10. Nordic Council of Ministers"Adventures in Moominland" Kick Off Nordic Matters Festival in London
  11. PLATO15 Fully-Funded PhDs Across Europe on the Post-Crisis Legitimacy of the EU - Apply Now!
  12. Dialogue PlatformInterview: Fethullah Gulen Condemns Assassination of Russian Ambassador to Turkey

Latest News

  1. 'Be patient,' ECB chief tells Germany
  2. EU cannot copy Australia's offshore asylum model
  3. Brexit men launch anti-EU website
  4. Germany details its 'Marshall Plan' for Africa
  5. IMF predicts 'pain' for UK, as banks prepare London exit
  6. EP deal could help Tusk keep Council job
  7. UN struggles to monitor fate of readmitted Syrians in Turkey
  8. European space chief: Moon village is 'more or less a fact'