24th Mar 2018

EU fails again to agree glyphosate renewal

  • The WHO says glyphosate is 'probably carcinogenic' to humans (Photo: Jacob Bøtter)

EU member states on Thursday (9 November) again failed to agree on a licence renewal period for the controversial herbicide glyphosate, used in the Monsanto produce Roundup among other produces, despite an 18-month long debate.

Ministers in the standing committee on plant animal food and feed in Brussels were not able to reach the qualified majority necessary and the meeting resulted in a "no opinion" outcome.

Thank you for reading EUobserver!

Subscribe now for a 30 day free trial.

  1. €150 per year
  2. or €15 per month
  3. Cancel anytime

EUobserver is an independent, not-for-profit news organization that publishes daily news reports, analysis, and investigations from Brussels and the EU member states. We are an indispensable news source for anyone who wants to know what is going on in the EU.

We are mainly funded by advertising and subscription revenues. As advertising revenues are falling fast, we depend on subscription revenues to support our journalism.

For group, corporate or student subscriptions, please contact us. See also our full Terms of Use.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Thursday's vote for a five-year licence extension was the result of a compromise proposed by the European Commission, which had decided to halve its initial proposal of a 10-year licence, after the European Parliament called for glyphosate to be phased out entirely within five years on 24 October.

The environment minister of Luxembourg, Carole Dieschbourg, was one of the first to welcome the result, saying on Twitter that "Luxembourg voted against renewal and prolongation", and declaring herself satisfied for the "good outcome for our health and environment".

Green MEP Bart Staes said "it is surely time" for the Commission to "accept that support for their proposals is not there" and "listen to the European Parliament", which has proposed "a credible and fair timetable to allow farmers to make the transition to a glyphosate-free Europe."

Member states divided

In order to find a deal, member states have to reach a qualified majority. This means that 55 percent of the EU countries, representing 65 percent of the European population, have to agree on the proposal.

Out of the 28 EU member states, 14 voted in favour of the five-year proposal, including the Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, the Netherlands, Slovenia and United Kingdom.

The same countries, with the addition of Romania and Poland (now abstaining) had backed the previous 10-years proposal, with Spain initially not willing to accept years as a renewal time.

On the other hand, nine EU members states voted against the proposal, namely Belgium, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, and Austria.

France was willing to further reduce the five-year proposal.

The five member states that abstained comprised Germany (where talks to form a government coalition that would include the Greens party are underway), as well as Bulgaria, Poland, Portugal and Romania.

Appeal committee

In order to try to break the deadlock caused by Thursday's rejection of its proposal, the Commission announced that a further attempt will be taken within the appeal committee for food safety before 22 November.

The appeal committee is a Commission's procedural tool, that gives member states the opportunity to have a second discussion at the higher level on issues not yet resolved. Like the standing committee, it is made up by the state representatives and chaired by the European Commission.

If no decision decision is taken, the Commission will have the power to adopt its own proposal without the backing of European governments.

"The Commission is trying to ram through a new glyphosate licence despite massive scandals surrounding its main maker and the EU's own risk assessment" said Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg.

When asked to comment on eventual further steps during the daily press briefing, the Commission replied it was taking the issue "step by step" since "it turns out that most of the member states voted in favour".

The license for glyphosate will expire on 15 December.

Even though two EU agencies have said glyphosate is safe, some NGO and environmental activists strongly objects, as the World Health Organisation's International Agency for Research on Cancer has classified glyphosate as "probably carcinogenic to humans".


EU postpones decision on glyphosate

Member state representatives met on Wednesday to discuss a renewal of the licence of the controversial weedkiller. 'At the conclusion of the meeting, no vote was taken', the commission said.


EU weed-killer evidence 'written by Monsanto'

The EU's favourable opinion of the weed-killer chemical glyphosate was partially based on scientific evidence heavily influenced by weed-killer manufacturer Monsanto.


Health MEPs want to phase out glyphosate by 2020

A committee resolution said the proposal to renew the glyphosate permit for a decade "fails to ensure a high level of protection of both human and animal health and the environment".


The anti-glyphosate lobby strikes again

Opponents of glyphosate too often rely on one - contested - piece of research, or smear their opponents as stooges for the chemicals industry.

News in Brief

  1. EU wants 'Paris' climate strategy within 13 months
  2. Workload of EU court remains high
  3. Spain's supreme court charges Catalan separatist leaders
  4. EU calls for 'permanent' exemption from US tariffs
  5. Summit backs guidelines for future EU-UK talks
  6. Macron support drops as public sector workers go on strike
  7. EU leaders condemn Turkey for illegal actions in Aegean Sea
  8. Parliament must publish 'trilogue' documents, court says

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. EUobserverStart a Career in EU Media. Apply Now to Become Our Next Sales Associate
  2. EUobserverHiring - Finance Officer With Accounting Degree or Experience - Apply Now!
  3. ECR GroupAn Opportunity to Help Shape a Better Future for Europe
  4. Counter BalanceControversial Turkish Azerbaijani Gas Pipeline Gets Major EU Loan
  5. World VisionSyria’s Children ‘At Risk of Never Fully Recovering', New Study Finds
  6. Macedonian Human Rights MovementMeets with US Congress Member to Denounce Anti-Macedonian Name Negotiations
  7. Martens CentreEuropean Defence Union: Time to Aim High?
  8. UNESDAWatch UNESDA’s President Toast Its 60th Anniversary Year
  9. AJC Transatlantic InstituteAJC Condemns MEP Ana Gomes’s Anti-Semitic Remark, Calls for Disciplinary Action
  10. EPSUEU Commissioners Deny 9.8 Million Workers Legal Minimum Standards on Information Rights
  11. ACCAAppropriate Risk Management is Crucial for Effective Strategic Leadership
  12. EPSUWill the Circular Economy be an Economy With no Workers?

Latest News

  1. Nordic states discuss targeted Russia sanctions
  2. Commission sticks to its line on Barroso case
  3. Germany and France promise new Russia sanctions
  4. EU rejects US trade 'gun to the head'
  5. Tariffs and Turkey will top This WEEK
  6. EU leaders roll over Brexit talks amid Trump and Russia fears
  7. Europe needs corporate tax reform - a digital tax isn't it
  8. EU data chiefs rally behind UK over Cambridge Analytica

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. European Jewish CongressThe 2018 European Medal of Tolerance Goes to Prince Albert II of Monaco
  2. FiscalNoteGlobal Policy Trends: What to Watch in 2018
  3. Human Rights and Democracy NetworkPromoting Human Rights and Democracy in the Next Eu Multiannual Financial Framework
  4. Mission of China to the EUDigital Cooperation a Priority for China-EU Relations
  5. ECTACompetition must prevail in the quest for telecoms investment
  6. European Friends of ArmeniaTaking Stock of 30 Years of EU Policy on the Nagorno-Karabakh Conflict: How Can the EU Contribute to Peace?
  7. ILGA EuropeCongratulations Finland!
  8. UNICEFCyclone Season Looms Over 720,000 Rohingya Children in Myanmar & Bangladesh
  9. European Gaming & Betting AssociationEU Court: EU Commission Correct to Issue Guidelines for Online Gambling Services
  10. Mission of China to the EUChina Hopes for More Exchanges With Nordic, Baltic Countries
  11. Macedonian Human Rights MovementCondemns Facebook for Actively Promoting Anti-Macedonian Racism
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersGlobal Seed Vault: Gene Banks Gather to Celebrate 1 Million Seed Collections