Saturday

17th Nov 2018

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.”

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

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.

EU to review animal welfare strategy

European Court of Auditors found there were "still some significant discrepancies between the animal welfare standards established in the EU legislation and the reality on the ground".

Analysis

Why Brazil's election matters to Brussels

Jair Bolsonaro could render the EU's climate action meaningless, if the newly elected leader of Latin America's biggest country follows through with plans to allow massive deforestation.

News in Brief

  1. US warns EU banks and firms against trading with Iran
  2. Merkel urged Romania not to move embassy to Jerusalem
  3. Protesters call for Czech leader to step down
  4. Former German chancellor labelled 'enemy' of Ukraine
  5. French lead opposition to Brexit deal on fisheries
  6. Private accounts of Danske Bank employees investigated
  7. UK's May defends Brexit deal to MPs, after ministers resign
  8. Brexit MP calls for 'no confidence' vote on May

Opinion

Crunch time to end overfishing in the EU

What happens when a difficult deadline hits? This is precisely what is being played out in EU fisheries as we approach the landmark legal commitment under the Common Fisheries Policy to end overfishing by 2020.

Opinion

No chance of meeting EU renewable goals if infrastructure neglected

Following the 2030 renewable target of 32 percent, chair of the European Parliament's environment committee Adina Valean argues in order to reach our climate and energy goals, we need both public and private investment over the next decade and beyond.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSTheresa May: “We will not be turning our backs on the Nordic region”
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  3. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  8. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  9. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  10. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  11. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  12. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs

Latest News

  1. Brexit dominates EU affairs This WEEK
  2. How the EU commission got tunnel vision on self-driving cars
  3. No-confidence calls against May put Brexit deal in doubt
  4. Key points of the Brexit deal (if it ever comes into effect)
  5. Romania heaps scorn on 'revolting' EU criticism
  6. US steps in to clean up Cyprus
  7. 'Decisive progress' on Brexit as British cabinet backs deal
  8. Asylum for Macedonia's ex-PM puts Orban on spot

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us