Wednesday

17th Oct 2018

German vote swings EU decision on 5-year glyphosate renewal

  • Eighteen countries agreed to use the weedkiller for five more years in Europe. (Photo: Pixabay)

EU member states agreed on Monday (27 November) on a five-year renewal period for the controversial herbicide glyphosate, used by Monsanto in its Roundup product.

The decision was taken by EU member states' experts, with 18 votes in favour, nine against and one abstention.

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

Germany's vote in favour of the proposal helped to reach a vote representing 65.71 percent of the EU population, just above the 65 percent threshold needed under the qualified majority rule.

The nine countries that opposed the five-year renewal were Belgium, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, and Austria.

Portugal was the state that abstained. In a previous vote on 9 November, four states had abstained.

The European Commission has now the green light for a a formal renewal of the licence for glyphosate in the EU.

"Today's vote shows that when we all want to, we are able to share and accept our collective responsibility in decision making," said health commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis.

Germany's decision to support the renewal created waves in Berlin with the outgoing coalition government.

The environment minister, Social Democrat Barbara Hendricks, said she had called her agriculture colleague, the Christian Democrat Christian Schmidt, in the morning to tell him that she "still did not agree" with the renewal.

"You cannot behave like this when you try to build trust," she said after the Brussels vote, referring to the talks that are due to start soon to form a new coalition between the CDU and Christian Social Union, with the SPD.

Scandal

"This is a scandal," said Green MEP Sven Giegold.


He said that the German government decision to support the renewal was as a "slap in the face of the environment and consumers."

Until last Sunday, the German Greens were in talks to form a government with the CDU of chancellor Angela Merkel, plus the CSU and pro-business FDP.

Other politicians in Europe were also critical of the member states' decision.

"This is not a clear signal for a phase-out of glyphosate. The fight needs to go on" said Luxembourgish health minister Carole Dieschbourg, whose country voted against.

In France, president Emmanuel Macron said that he would put a ban on glyphosate "as soon as alternatives have been found, or within three years at the latest."

In a statement, French and Belgian social democrat MEPs Eric Andrieu and Marc Tarabella said that "the 28 and the European Commission are guilty of failure to assist persons in danger."

"The European Commission has to stop the 'ostrich' policy," they said.

Julie Girling, from the conservative ECR group in the European Parliament, said she was really "pleased" for the re-authorisation of the herbicide,

"This represents the triumph of common sense in the face of a relentless campaign from some green groups determined to ignore scientific evidence and worry the public unnecessarily," she said in a statement.

Several hours after the decision was taken, a handful of left-leaning MEPs expressed their anger at a meeting of the environmental and food safety committee.

"We didn't ask for renewal, we asked for a phase-out," said Czech centre-left MEP Pavel Poc.

In a resolution adopted in the parliament's plenary in October, the parliament asked for a phase-out over the next five years.

Poc said seeing this resolution as an endorsement of a five-year renewal was a "misinterpretation" of the EP resolution.

He reacted angrily to the comments from his centre-right colleague Pilar Ayuso, a Spanish member of the European People's Party (EPP).

Ayuso had said that the renewal of glyphosate debate had been accompanied by "falsehoods", which she called "stupid."

"We've debated glyphosate quite enough," said Ayuso.

The committee will vote on an objection to the decision on Tuesday (28 November).

NGOs and environmental protection associations unanimously condemned member states' decision.

"Five more years of glyphosate will put our health and environment at risk, and is a major setback to more sustainable farming methods," Adrian Bebb from Friends of the Earth Europe warned.

The Commission and most governments have chosen "to ignore the warnings of independent scientists, the demands of the European Parliament and the petition" calling for a glyphosate ban, Greenpeace EU food policy director Franziska Achterberg commented.

Some 1.3 million Europeans citizens presented a petition asking the European Union to ban glyphosate, with the petition discussed on 20 November at the parliament.

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

Monsanto itself also expressed frustration at the renewal. "Glyphosate has fulfilled all requirements for a full 15-year renewal," the company said on Twitter.

"There is no scientific basis for approving authorisation for only five years."

EU fails again to agree glyphosate renewal

Member states failed to agree on a licence renewal for weedkiller glyphosate. A new vote will take place before 22 November at the European Commission's appeal committee.

Investigation

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.

EU will formally renew glyphosate on 12 December

The European Commission will also reply to a million-strong citizens' petition to ban glyphosate, and clarify EU rules concerning scientific studies on which the herbicide's renewal was based.

News in Brief

  1. Tusk: May should come with new Brexit proposals
  2. EU boosts security role in Central African Republic
  3. Poland snipes at EU border guard plan
  4. Italy to propose mini-thaw in Russia sanctions
  5. Italy splurges on welfare in new budget
  6. EU adopts new chemical weapons sanctions
  7. Le Pen warms towards cooperation with Bannon
  8. Bettel set to stay in power in Luxembourg after election

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. International Partnership for Human RightsOpen letter to Emmanuel Macron ahead of Uzbek president's visit
  2. International Partnership for Human RightsRaising key human rights concerns during visit of Turkmenistan's foreign minister
  3. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSState of the Nordic Region presented in Brussels
  4. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe vital bioeconomy. New issue of “Sustainable Growth the Nordic Way” out now
  5. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSThe Nordic gender effect goes international
  6. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSPaula Lehtomaki from Finland elected as the Council's first female Secretary General
  7. NORDIC COUNCIL OF MINISTERSNordic design sets the stage at COP24, running a competition for sustainable chairs.
  8. Counter BalanceIn Kenya, a motorway funded by the European Investment Bank runs over roadside dwellers
  9. ACCACompany Law Package: Making the Best of Digital and Cross Border Mobility,
  10. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil Society Worried About Shortcomings in EU-Kyrgyzstan Human Rights Dialogue
  11. UNESDAThe European Soft Drinks Industry Supports over 1.7 Million Jobs
  12. Mission of China to the EUJointly Building Belt and Road Initiative Leads to a Better Future for All

Latest News

  1. EU ministers struggle to deal with Poland and Hungary
  2. Commission tried to hide details of 'WiFi4EU' glitch
  3. Brexit standoff continues before EU summit
  4. ASEM: Global Partners for Global Challenges
  5. How Juncker's 'do less' group concluded EU should not do less
  6. Cyprus and Russia: Association of Cyprus Banks responds
  7. Orthodox church split just tip of Putin's crumbling 'soft power' in Ukraine
  8. Daily reality in Western Sahara - and how EU can protect it

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. International Partnership for Human RightsCivil society asks PACE to appoint Rapporteur to probe issue of political prisoners in Azerbaijan
  2. ACCASocial Mobility – How Can We Increase Opportunities Through Training and Education?
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersEnergy Solutions for a Greener Tomorrow
  4. UNICEFWhat Kind of Europe Do Children Want? Unicef & Eurochild Launch Survey on the Europe Kids Want
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Countries Take a Stand for Climate-Smart Energy Solutions
  6. Mission of China to the EUChina: Work Together for a Better Globalisation
  7. Nordic Council of MinistersNordics Could Be First Carbon-Negative Region in World
  8. European Federation of Allergy and AirwaysLife Is Possible for Patients with Severe Asthma
  9. PKEE - Polish Energy AssociationCommon-Sense Approach Needed for EU Energy Reform
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region to Lead in Developing and Rolling Out 5G Network
  11. Mission of China to the EUChina-EU Economic and Trade Relations Enjoy a Bright Future
  12. ACCAEmpowering Businesses to Engage with Sustainable Finance and the SDGs

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us