Environment MEPs denounce member states’ move to weaken bee protection from pesticides 

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MEPs could send the Commission back to the drawing board after member states watered down draft measures to protect bees.

The draft proposal from the European Commission was intended to incorporate into EU law the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) 2013 guidance to cut the use of pesticides that harm bees. The guidance indicated how pesticides should be tested, in order to protect bees from both acute and chronic exposure. Pesticides would remain available on the market if they pass these new tests.

However, most EU member states opposed the provisions, forcing the Commission into a compromise to keep on board only provisions that protect bees against acute exposure.

“It is unacceptable that Member States oppose the full implementation of the 2013 EFSA bee guidance” says the resolution. The draft “only introduces modifications (...) with regard to acute toxicity to honeybees, but remains silent on chronic toxicity to honeybees, as well as on toxicity to bumble bees and solitary bees”. Moreover, the Commission’s text “does not represent the most recent developments in scientific and technical knowledge” and “would not change the level of protection” already offered, say MEPs.

They also stress that the European Commission did not make use of its powers as the 16 Member States impeding the application of the protection criteria did not form a qualified majority.

The ENVI resolution therefore calls on the Commission to table a new draft based on the latest scientific and technical knowledge. The Executive should also make full use of its powers to obtain the submission of a proper proposal, say MEPs.

Next steps

The Environment committee adopted its resolution on Monday evening with 62 votes to 4 and 7 abstentions, calling on the plenary to veto the Commission proposal. The full House will vote on Wednesday, noon. Parliament can block the Commission proposal by adopting the resolution with an absolute majority of its members.