Environmental groups fear that the biodiversity bill adopted last Wednesday (20 July) will be watered down under the next French government, particularly the ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides, which has been put off until 2018. EurActiv’s partner Journal de l’Environnement reports.
From its first appearance in the French parliament in March 2014, the bill on biodiversity regrowth, nature and landscapes took 27 months to pass the final hurdle on 20 July and be written into law.
Environmental associations have hailed this as “real progress” but have also highlighted “some missed opportunities”. The Green party also acknowledged “significant progress”, but said the bill was still “far from up to the task”.
The ban on bee-killing neonicotinoid pesticides was seen as one of the big successes of the bill, which has drawn criticism for its failure to enforce a ban on deep sea trawling (eventually banned by the EU on 30 June this year) and a tax on palm oil.
French plans to place an additional tax on palm oil as part of its biodiversity bill have angered Malaysia and Indonesia. The bill is expected to be passed next week. EurActiv France reports.
Neonicotinoids: nothing is set in stone
But beyond the strengths or weaknesses of the law, its future implementation is anything but guaranteed. The next government, which the polls suggest will be formed by the right wing Republican party, may choose not to pursue the law, and the agriculture and hunting lobbies have already been extremely active on the issue.
This intense lobbying led to the neonicotinoids question being passed back and forth throughout the debates, with bans introduced by the National Assembly (France’s lower house of parliament) in both 2016 and 2017, only to be struck down by the Senate. The parliament eventually agreed to introduce the ban in September 2018 with certain derogations until September 2020.
“In the end we have set dates for the ban but have left the doors open [with derogations], which will give the lobbies the time to get organised,” said Sandra Regol, the Green party spokeswoman.
In a bid to spur the EU into action, the French ban on neonicotinoids could be set back several months and subject to a number of exceptions. EurActiv France reports.
“This is all very political, in the bad sense of the word,” said Jean-David Abel, the head of biodiversity at France Nature Environment. “It has been an enormous battle and we are obviously very pleased with the decision in principle, at least on a psychological level. But in reality this leaves the next government with a lot of freedom to act. Under pressure from the FNSEA (the French National Federation of Farming Unions), there would be nothing to stop them backtracking, for example by pushing the ban back to 2025.”