Saturday

7th Dec 2019

EU fails to reach weed-killer deal, again

  • Glyphosate is marketed by US company Monsanto under the brandname Roundup (Photo: CIAT)

European experts failed to extend the licence for glyphosate, the world’s most widely-used weed-killing substance, during a meeting on Monday (6 June).

The EU standing committee on plants, animals, food and feed, known as Paff, which gathers experts from member states, failed to find a qualified majority supporting the European Commission's proposal to extend the licence even for a limited period of 18 months.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 30-day free trial.

... or join as a group

A German spokesman said last week that Berlin would abstain from voting, as the governing coalition is split on the issue.

The French minister of health, Marisol Touraine, said in May that Paris would ban the use of glyphosate, regardless of the EU vote. But according to an EU source, France also merely abstained on Monday.

A majority of smaller EU countries wanted to extend the licence.

Glyphosate is marketed by US company Monsanto under the brandname Roundup. Its current licence expires on 30 June.

Paff has already met twice, in March and May, on the issue, both times postponing the vote after some member states raised concerns that glyphosate may cause cancer.

The scientific evidence on the matter is contradictory.

The World Health Organisation (WHO’s) cancer agency, the IARC, classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans" in March 2015.

The EU agency for food safety, Efsa, and the Joint Meeting on Pesticide Residues (JMPR), an ad hoc expert committee administered jointly by the WHO and the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation, later said there is no scientific evidence of a cancer link.

The studies used different sources as the basis of their conclusions. JMPR was also accused of conflict of interest, as its chair and vice-chair Alan Boobis and Antonio Moretto, also hold positions at the Monsanto-financed International Life Sciences Institute in New York.

The Commission had suggested an 18 month extension, which would allow for the European Agency for Chemical Products (Echa) to publish its results on the matter.

Under EU law, Echa, rather than Efsa, has the last word on classification of chemicals.

A spokeswoman said the Commission had tried to accommodate concerns from a number of national governments, as well as from the European Parliament, which earlier voted to extend the licence for seven years instead of the customary 15.

Faced with opposition by large EU countries, Vytenis Andriukaitis, the EU health commissioner, said last week that member states could always restrict the use of glyphosate at national level even if they agree to extending the licence at EU level.

“They do not need to hide behind a Commission decision,” he said.

If member states fail to agree, it will be up to the Commission to assume responsibility for a glyphosate licence renewal.

The college of Commissioners will discuss how to proceed on Tuesday.

The EU executive can decide to refer the matter to an appeals committee, which gathers representatives of the 28 EU member states. If they also failed to reach an agreement, the Commission will have the right to adopt its own proposal unilaterally.

EU declines to renew glyphosate licence

Member states did not agree on conditions to renew the permit for the chemical used in pesticides, amid contradictory evidence on a possible cancer link.

Doubts over EU chemical agency after weedkiller study

Green MEPs and health pressure groups said the European Chemicals Agency could be suffering from conflicts of interest, after it said there wasn't enough evidence to prove that the world's most widely used weedkiller causes cancer.

Brussels wants EU states to share flak for GMO approvals

European Commission proposes changes to the little-known but often used comitology procedure, which results in deadlocks whenever controversial issues like genetically modified organisms are on the table.

Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

The Green Deal commissioner, Frans Timmermans, said the costs of inaction in climate policy are "tremendously high". However, it is still unclear if member states will unanimously agree on the EU's 2050 climate-neutrality goal at next week's summit.

News in Brief

  1. Greece denies access to fair asylum process, report says
  2. Report: Self-regulation of social media 'not working'
  3. Turkey: Greek expulsion of Libyan envoy 'outrageous'
  4. Merkel coalition may survive, says new SPD co-leader
  5. Von der Leyen Ethiopia visit a 'political statement'
  6. Over 5,500 scientists ask EU to protect freshwater life
  7. Iran defies EU and UN on ballistic missiles
  8. Committee of the Regions: bigger budget for Green Deal

Focus

Thunberg rejects climate prize in hometown Stockholm

The Nordic Council's prestigious annual awards ceremony this year turned into a youth revolt, with climate activist Greta Thunberg declining the environment prize and another winner criticising the Danish prime minister for racism.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of Ministers40 years of experience have proven its point: Sustainable financing actually works
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic and Baltic ministers paving the way for 5G in the region
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEarmarked paternity leave – an effective way to change norms
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Climate Action Weeks in December
  5. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture

Latest News

  1. Russia makes big promises to Arctic peoples on expansion
  2. UK election plus EU summit in focus This WEEK
  3. Migrants paying to get detained in Libyan centres
  4. Searching for solidarity in EU asylum policy
  5. Will Michel lead on lobbying transparency at Council?
  6. Blood from stone: What did British PR firm do for Malta?
  7. EU Commission defends Eurobarometer methodology
  8. Timmermans warns on cost of inaction on climate

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  2. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  3. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us