EU proposal for use of glyphosate: so far only Germany opposed

When presenting the European Commission's proposal for extended authorization of glyphosate in pesticides, only Germany said it was against it. Austria is also known to be against the use of glyphosate in agriculture. France is no longer against a complete ban, but now wants a three-quarters reduction.

The Netherlands would make a reservation last Friday at the SCoPAFF expert meeting, as LNV Minister Piet Adema had previously reported to the House of Representatives. A parliamentary majority has instructed the outgoing cabinet to vote against, but Adema first wants to await advice from the Dutch experts of the Board for the Authorization of Plant Protection Products and Biocides (Ctgb).

European legislation stipulates that the permit for the use of plant protection products can be extended for a maximum period of 15 years. In this case, Brussels proposes to extend the validity of glyphosate by 10 years. In theory, the LNV ministers can opt for a shorter period.

The current authorization expires in December this year, but sources close to the Commission stated that if a qualified majority is not reached in the first vote in October, the herbicide's validity would be extended until deliberations are completed. The latter formulation creates the administrative space for wavering people to maintain the proposal and ultimately carry it past the European elections.

Previously, two important European advisory bodies (ECHA Chemicals and EFSA Food Safety) concluded in additional studies that glyphosate does not pose a threat to the environment or humans. The European Commission does, however, impose additional (new) conditions on the use in strips of four to ten meters wide along waterfronts. Other spray nozzles should also be used that give even less chance of spreading pesticides being blown away.

The EU countries will have to decide on the future of glyphosate by a majority vote on October 13.

In France, President Macron promised in 2017 to phase out glyphosate “by early 2021 at the latest,” before going back on his promise last year. In the Netherlands and Belgium, the use of glyphosate is prohibited for individuals, but not in agriculture and horticulture. In Portugal, its use in public spaces is prohibited. In the Czech Republic it has been restricted but not banned since 2019. Germany plans to ban glyphosate by the end of 2023.

 Ultimately, the EU proposal can either be blocked alone or passed with a qualified majority. This means that at least 55% of the Member States, representing at least 65% of the EU population, must not only not abstain from voting, but must also actively vote for or against.

This did not work last year, and the European Commissioners themselves decided to extend use for one year, so that additional ECHA and AFSA studies became possible.