On Tuesday 24th October 2017 there was an advisory vote taken in the European Parliament on an objection to the Commission's proposed re-authorisation of the active substance glyphosate. The Parliament voted in favour of a five-year re-authorisation period of glyphosate on sale in the European market with a view to its use being phased out by 2022. This position is taken with the understanding that farmers will be provided with an adequate alternative, i.e. further research for the phase out period into low-risk alternatives, guidance on integrated pest management. This position received majority support across the political groups in the Parliament including from the Socialist and Democratic Group, which Labour’s MEPs are members of.
This however was an advisory vote as the final authority to re-authorise lies with the Standing Committee for Plants, Animals, Food and Feed. This Committee is made up of the 28 member states of the EU who each send a civil servant to represent their national view.
The Standing Committee met on Wednesday 25th October and failed to reach an agreement on the re-authorisation of glyphosate, with the proposal before them from the European Commission being for a 10 year re-authorisation. According to our information, the countries in favour of a re-authorisation were Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Denmark, Estonia, Ireland, Spain, Cyprus, Latvia, Lithuania, Hungary, the Netherlands, Poland, Romania, Slovakia, Finland and the U.K .The countries against the Commission proposal were Belgium, Greece, Croatia, France, Italy, Luxembourg, Malta, Austria, Slovenia and Sweden and two countries, Germany and Portugal, abstained.
As it currently stands the existing authorisation expires on 15th December 2017. It therefore seems likely that the European Commission will propose a shorter re-authorisation period at a subsequent meeting of the Standing Committee, presumably before the expiry date.
Labour MEPs are committed to science-based decision-making while at the same time being mindful of the precautionary principle. We are also aware that additional information on glyphosate is regularly being published and that politicians, along with the European Food Safety Authority, European Chemical Agency and the Commission need to be mindful of any new findings.