The EU has been criticised after a new legal analysis showed it had allowed scores of “emergency authorisations” of banned pesticides that threaten bee colonies.
The research emerged as the EU’s general court began hearing a case by Syngenta and Bayer to overturn the pesticides ban. A ruling is expected shortly.
Three neonicotinoid pesticides were outlawed in Europe in 2013, following analysis – since confirmed by the pesticide industry’s own research – that they posed a grave risk to bee populations.
“Limited and controlled” exceptions to the ban were permitted for emergencies, where pest outbreaks posed an imminent economic danger that could not be treated any other way.
In those conditions, countries could notify Brussels that they were exercising a derogation and provide their justifications for scrutiny. In practice though, that scrutiny was lacking, according to ClientEarth.
Vito Buonsante, a co-author of the new research for ClientEarth, said: “The [European] commission has been utterly complacent and done nothing to limit this clear abuse of the law. Instead of scrutinising the actions of member states as they are obliged to do, they have closed their eyes and continued with business as usual. It is negligent.”
The group’s analysis finds that 82% of country notifications did not provide any economic evidence of a threat to plant production, and around the same percentage did not list any alternative means of pest control.