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
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.
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 (‘to ensure that the scientific evaluation of pesticides for EU regulatory approval is based only on published studies [...]’):
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 ('to set EU-wide mandatory reduction targets for pesticide use, with a view to achieving a pesticide-free future'):
Pesticides reduction: a key priority for the Farm to Fork Strategy
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.
For up-to-date information on the developments in the field of sustainable use of pesticides and harmonised risk indicators, see the dedicated Commission website.