Skip to main content
European Citizens' Initiative

Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides

Submission and examination

Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides was submitted to the Commission on 6 October 2017, having gathered 1,070,865 statements of support. See press release.

The organisers met with European Commission First Vice-President Frans Timmermans and Commissioner for Health & Food Safety Vytenis Andriukaitis on 23/10/2017. See press release.

A public hearing took place at the European Parliament on 20/11/2017.

The Commission adopted a Communication on 12/12/2017 setting out the actions it intends to take in response to the initiative Ban glyphosate and protect people and the environment from toxic pesticides. See press release.

Answer of the European Commission

Official documents:

Main conclusions of the Communication:

  • On the first aim, to 'ban glyphosate-based herbicides', the Commission concluded that there are neither scientific nor legal grounds to justify a ban of glyphosate, and will not make a legislative proposal to that effect.
  • On the second aim, to “ensure that the scientific evaluation of pesticides for EU regulatory approval is based only on published studies, which are commissioned by competent public authorities instead of the pesticide industry”, the Commission committed to come forward with a legislative proposal by May 2018, amongst others, to strengthen the transparency of the EU risk assessment in the food chain and enhance – through a series of measures – the governance for the conduct of industry studies submitted to the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) for risk assessment. See details below under ‘Follow-up’.
  • On the third aim, to 'set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use, with a view to achieving a pesticide-free future', the Commission concluded that it intends to focus on the implementation of the Sustainable Use Directive, and will re-evaluate the situation, initially in a report to Council and the Parliament on the implementation of the Directive to be produced in 2019. The Commission committed also to establishing harmonised risk indicators to enable the monitoring of trends at EU level and to use the resulting data as a basis for determining future policy options.

Follow-up

This section provides information on the follow-up actions that have been taken by the Commission and other institutions following the Commission's response:

Legislative action (on aim 2):

A proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council on the transparency and sustainability of the EU risk assessment in the food chain was adopted by the Commission on 11 April 2018 in response to the second aim of the initiative (see above).

To address citizens' concerns and drawing also on the Commission's Fitness Check of the General Food Law, the proposal was a targeted amendment of the General Food Law Regulation and – as far as transparency and confidentiality aspects were concerned – of eight other sectoral legislative acts.

While the citizens’ initiative was focusing only on the area of plant protection products, the Regulation, based on the Commission’s proposal, covered the entire food chain and all regulated products in the food chain.

Following the agreement of the European Parliament and the Council, the Regulation of the European Parliament and the Council was published in the Official Journal of the EU on 6 September 2019. Following its entry into force 20 days after publication, it became applicable 18 months later, i.e. on 27 March 2021.

The main elements of the Regulation aim at:

  • Ensuring more transparency: Citizens will have automatic access to all studies and information submitted by industry in the risk assessment process. Stakeholders and the general public will also be consulted on submitted studies. At the same time, the Regulation will guarantee confidentiality, in duly justified circumstances, by setting out the type of information that may be considered significantly harmful for commercial interests and therefore cannot be disclosed.
  • Increasing the independence of studies: The European Food Safety Authority will be notified of all commissioned studies to guarantee that companies applying for authorisations submit all relevant information and do not hold back unfavourable studies. The Authority will also provide general advice to applicants, in particular SMEs, prior to the submission of the dossier. The Commission may ask the Authority to commission additional studies for verification purposes and will perform fact-finding missions to verify the compliance of laboratories/studies with applicable standards between March 2021 and March 2025.
  • Strengthening the governance and the scientific cooperation: Member States, civil society and the European Parliament will be involved in the governance of the European Food Safety Authority by being duly represented in its Management Board. Member States will foster the Authority's scientific capacity and engage the best independent experts into its work.
  • Developing comprehensive risk communication: The new Regulation sets out objectives and general principles of risk communication. In the coming years, the Commission, in close cooperation with the Member States and with the European Food Safety Authority, will adopt a general plan for risk communication to ensure a coherent risk communication strategy throughout the risk analysis process, combined with open dialogue amongst all interested parties.

The Commission and EFSA are working closely to ensure the proper implementation of the new Regulation.

Further information can be found on the dedicated Commission website.

 

Legislative and non-legislative action (on aim 3):

Development of EU Harmonised Risk Indicators (HRI)

In its response to the third aim, to “set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use, with a view to achieving a pesticide-free future”, the Commission committed to establishing harmonised risk indicators under Directive 2009/128/EC.

The Commission Directive 2019/782 establishing Harmonised Risk Indicators was agreed on 15 May 2019, with a transposition deadline of 5 September 2019.

 

2017 Report to the Council and European Parliament on the implementation of the Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive (SUD) and actions taken to ensure that Member States comply with their obligations under SUD to reduce dependency on pesticides

In 2017-2020, the Commission stepped up audits and engagement with Member States to ensure compliance with Sustainable Use of Pesticides Directive. Key actions included Commission audits in several Member States and surveys (replied by most Member States) on the reviews of their initial action plans and on inspection of pesticide application equipment. The Commission addressed issues encountered in three rounds of letters to Member State authorities between 2017 and 2020.

Further information can be found on the dedicated Commission website.

 

Pesticides: a key priority for the Farm to Fork Strategy

The second report, published in May 2020, concluded that despite weaknesses in national action plans, Member States had made progress in implementing the Directive 2009/128/EC on the sustainable use of pesticides. However, significant potential for further risk reduction was suggested through, among others, greater adoption of integrated pest management, including more widespread adoption of non-chemical pest control techniques.

In this context, the Farm to Fork Strategy, published in May 2020, sets ambitious targets for pesticides, notably a reduction by 50% of the use and risk of chemical and most hazardous pesticides.

The Commission is moving forward in its work with Member States to implement the Farm to Fork pesticide targets.

Further information can be found on the dedicated Commission website.

Want to learn and collaborate?