Member states ‘hiding’ behind Brussels on glyphosate

Member states ‘hiding’ behind Brussels on glyphosate

A vote on whether to extend EU-wide authorisation for the controversial weedkiller Glyphosate has exposed reluctance among member states to take a clear position on a defining issue for European agriculture.

Last Wednesday (1 June), the European Commission called a meeting of the EU Plants Animals Food and Feed Committee on 6 June, in order to discuss a limited extension (12-18 months) of the current authorisation for glyphosate, until ECHA gives a scientific assessment of the substance.

Glyphosate was first used in the 1970s as the active ingredient in the Monsanto herbicide Roundup, which is now one of the world’s most popular weedkillers.

A collective decision

Commission sources told last week that it was a collective decision, saying, “We look forward to a response from the member states.”

“Our scientific process is very stringent and relies on (the) pooling of expertise between the European Food Safety Authority and all 28 member states,” Health and Food Safety Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said, adding that the executive’s objective is to find a solution that “commands the widest possible support from the member states”.

“So far, even though a majority of member states is in favor of the renewal, no qualified majority has been reached in spite of the Commission’s efforts to accommodate requests and concerns from a number of national governments, as well as from the European Parliament,” he said.

“The ball is now in the member states’ court,” Andriukaitis stressed.

Big three

The EU Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed will meet today (6 June), and the vote on glyphosate is expected to take place in the morning.

A qualified majority is needed for the Commission proposal to pass, meaning a 55% majority of member states (16 countries) representing 65% of the total EU population voting in favour.

This means the stance of member states such as France, Germany, and Italy will be crucial for the outcome of the vote.

French Minister of Environment Ségolène Royal, recently said that Paris would vote against the re-authorisation.

EU sources in Brussels confirmed it was highly unlikely that Paris would vote in favour, given the negative pubic opinion on glyphosate and the ongoing protests against economic reforms in France. This is despite a widespread use of the weedkiller among French farmers.

On the other hand, Germany will most probably abstain from the vote while Italy, which has the third largest population in the EU, is not willing to take a political risk at this stage.

Source: EurActiv

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