A much-awaited qualified majority of EU member states was reached today (27 November) for the re-authorisation of the world’s most commonly used weedkiller, glyphosate.
The Appeal Committee, which consists of experts from the EU member states and the European Commission, met on Monday to discuss renewing the approval of the active substance glyphosate.
According to the Commission, a qualified majority of member states voted in favour of the Commission’s proposal for a five-year re-approval (18 in favour, nine against and one abstention). EURACTIV.com was informed that Germany voted in favour of re-approval, having previously abstained. This ensured the qualified majority for approval.
Germany’s Social Democrat Environment Minister Barbara Hendricks said the change of position had not been discussed with her and had been taken by her conservative coalition partners, Der Spiegel reports.
The minister is quoted as saying that this was a poor way to behave “if you want to build trust between partners”, referring to the ongoing coalition talks in Berlin.
18 member states voted in favour, including Poland, Bulgaria, and Romania which previously abstained, while nine member states voted against and just Portugal abstained.
“Today’s vote shows that when we all want to, we are able to share and accept our collective responsibility in decision making,” Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis said.
The Commission will now adopt the decision before the current authorisation expires on 15 December, as provided for in the applicable EU legislation.
S&D vice-president for sustainability Kathleen Van Brempt MEP commented that member states “ignored” EU citizens.
“They have turned a deaf ear to the demand of the European Parliament to phase out glyphosate. But they have also turned a deaf ear to more than a million Europeans who signed a petition to ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides.”
“Instead of deciding on a final deadline to replace this harmful substance, we now have to discuss it again in five years. Unfortunately, the member states chose to prolong this never-ending story,” she added.
EU farmers are disappointed
Copa and Cogeca, the EU farmers’ organisation, expressed their disappointment about the decision for a five-year re-approval.
Copa and Cogeca Secretary-General Pekka Pesonen stressed although it was good news that a decision has been taken to end the uncertainty facing farmers and their cooperatives, “we are worried that the EU has agreed to re-authorise glyphosate for 5 years instead of the full 15 years”.
“It should have been re-authorised for 15 years after it was given a positive assessment by both the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). It is vital not only to feed a growing population with reliable food supplies at affordable prices.”
Samuel White contributed to this article.