Brussels, 16 March 2018
Dear Commission President Juncker,
Cc Commissioner Andriukaitis,
In March 2017, your Commission presented a plan to extend the existing restrictions on three neonicotinoid insecticides (imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam) due to the risks they pose to bees. We welcomed these proposals to ban all outdoor uses as “great news for bees”.
Now, a year later, Member States have yet to vote on these proposals. A vote planned in December was cancelled after many delegations said they wanted to wait for a new EFSA evaluation of the science.
EFSA published this evaluation on 28 February. It confirms that the three chemicals threaten both managed and wild bees and that the restrictions imposed in 2013 are insufficient to control these risks. A Commission spokesperson acknowledged that the EFSA report was “strengthening the scientific basis for the Commission's proposal to ban outdoor uses of the three neonicotinoids”.
However, a recently published agenda for the next meeting of the Standing Committee on Phytopharmaceuticals on 22-23 March shows that the Commission services are not planning to submit the proposals for a vote. Not even a discussion of the proposals is planned. Rather, the services aim to only discuss the latest EFSA reports.
One year after the presentation of the proposals and with eight EFSA reports showing that the current EU restrictions are insufficient to control the risk, there is no more reason to wait. The scientific evidence shows that maintaining these insecticides on the market is unlawful.
As President of the European Commission, we respectfully ask you to use your power to make sure that these pesticides are banned without further delay, in line with EU regulations.
We urge you to finally put these proposals to vote at the Standing Committee meeting of 22-23 March. Eleven EU Member States are already in support, including France, the UK, Ireland, Croatia, Slovenia, Luxembourg and Malta. Once a vote is planned, it is likely that more countries will come on board.
Bees and other pollinators remain under threat in Europe. While pesticides are one of multiple factors to blame, the elimination of these chemicals from the environment is a crucial, achievable and effective first step to protect their health and the crucial role they play in our natural ecosystems.
We are counting on you to be the “friend of the bees” you have reportedly declared to be.