EU countries try again to decide on an extra year of glyphosate

The EU countries try again on Tuesday to agree on a temporary extension of the authorization of glyphosate in pesticides. The current authorization expires on December 15, but the European Commission is requesting a one-year extension because a scientific EFSA opinion is not forthcoming.

The renewed vote in the Appeals Committee is necessary because there was no majority in favor or against an extension in the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF) last month. Qualified majority required for the glyphosate decision: at least 55 percent of the EU countries and 65 percent of the EU population. 

Germany, France and Slovenia abstained last month, while Croatia, Luxembourg and Malta voted against. The abstainers and voters together make up 35.27 percent of the EU population. The 65 percent threshold was thus narrowly missed by the proponents.

In recent years, several EU member states have said they are already introducing their own glyphosate restriction in anticipation of the EU. French President Macron previously said he was against extended admission, but has dropped that position.

In the Netherlands, the House of Representatives adopted a motion in 2018 to limit its use, but successive ministers Schouten, Staghouwer and Adema have not adopted this as a position in the EU in recent years.

Glyphosate in agricultural products has been controversial for many years because opponents say it poses health risks. The re-admission was borderline in 2017, mainly due to the promised scientific research from EFSA. The Netherlands is one of the four countries that is supervising this research. As long as that advice is not there, nobody in Brussels wants to burn their fingers on it.

For Tuesday's second round of voting, this also means that, for example, a switch from Slovenia, which makes up 0.47 percent of the EU population, to the yes camp would be sufficient for a temporary extension.

The voting behavior of Germany, where a center-left coalition has been ruling since this year, with Greens minister Cem Özdemir on Agriculture, is also being looked forward to on Tuesday. Germany voted in 2017 under the then CSU minister Schmidt for an extension, much to the chagrin of coalition partner SPD, helping the proponents to a narrow majority.