Brussels won't change pesticides law to protect bees despite citizen petition

The European Commission will not present new legislation on pesticides in order to save the bee population in Europe despite the Citizen's Initiative.

More than one million European citizens have since 2019 signed a European Citizen's Initiative calling for the phase-out of synthetic pesticides by 2035, to restore biodiversity, and to support farmers in the transition.

Martin Dermine is the citizen who started the initiative. He works for the NGO Pesticide Action Network.

“There’s a strong link between bees, how they are doing and the state of the environment, exposure of citizens to pesticides and also the health of farmers," Dermine told Euronews.

"So this Citizens initiative, by giving a strong message to decision-makers, will definitely help bees because they are the first ones impacted by pesticides. And reducing pesticides will also be better for people living in rural areas, also citizens who consume pesticides in the food they eat and the food they buy".

One in three pollinator species is in decline in Europe and 80% of the crops and wild plant species depend on animal pollinators.

For the European Commission, the initiative gives a strong message to the legislators as it shows clear citizen support.

But the EU's executive won’t propose any new legislation, calling instead for the one that is already on the negotiation table to be adopted.

Under the Farm to Fork and Biodiversity Strategies the European Commission wants to reduce the use of pesticides.

It wants the use of and risk of chemical pesticides and the use of more hazardous pesticides to be slashed by 50% respectively by the end of the decade.

This is why in the words of Adalbert Jahnz, spokesperson of the European Commission, the response to the initiative is that it "is really time for the Parliament and the Council to find agreements rapidly on the legislative proposals that we [the European Commission] made and it is time also for member states to implement in an ambitious way the new Common Agriculture Policy".

But it is "not time for us now to reopen our legislative proposal or to make new legislative proposals. The essential and urgent thing is to keep the level of ambition that the Commission has put on the table of the co-legislators and really translate the ambition of citizens into binding law."

This was the seventh European Citizens' Initiative to have received a response by the Commission after having reached the threshold of one million signatures in at least 7 different member states. Nine other ECIs did not reach the required threshold.