Reluctant countries can still help glyphosate in EU gain a majority

There is no qualified majority required in the European Committee of Experts for the re-authorization of the pesticide glyphosate in European agriculture. This was announced in Brussels on Friday after the SCoPAFF vote, after a test vote had already shown this on Thursday evening.

As a result, the proposal will now be submitted to the Appeals Committee. That committee is expected to discuss and vote on the proposal in the first half of November. A decision on the extension of glyphosate use must be made by December 14, 2023, as the current approval expires on December 15, 2023.

Under the current permit conditions, permits for preparations containing glyphosate can be valid for one year longer, i.e. until December 15, 2024, if the permit conditions are met. Critics see the use of glyphosate as a major threat to the environment, but manufacturers dispute this. 

For a qualified majority, the European Commission requires the agreement of at least 55 percent of the EU states, which at the same time represent at least 65 percent of the EU population. Shortly before a vote, it was clear that the EU countries were still too divided to bring together the minimum required 15 supporters or opponents. 

It is not yet clear what their position is for some countries. At most, there were 8 proponents and 3 possible proponents, with 3 opponents (Croatia, Luxembourg, Austria) and 3 abstentions (Netherlands, Belgium, Germany) and seven waverers.

Among those abstainers and waverers are a number of countries that can still help the proposal gain a majority. For example, Sweden, which is currently the 'neutral' rotating EU chairman, has not yet taken a final position in accordance with the procedures. 

France would only agree if the French glyphosate variant is used; not ten but seven years of authorization, with a maximum use per hectare, and only in 'safe' agricultural areas.

If there is again no qualified majority in favor in the Appeals Committee by mid-November, the European Commission can also allow this on its own authority. In that case, there is a risk of repeating the situation of recent years, where a majority of the European Parliament wants to ban glyphosate, but the majority of the 27 EU countries do not. 

In that case, the European Commission will be in trouble from two sides. Although Parliament has no veto power in the approval process, it does have an advisory role. At the initiative of the Greens, a resolution is now being prepared, which will probably be put on the agenda in Strasbourg in two weeks.