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European Court of Justice Confirms Ban on Neonicotinoids

In 2013, the European Commission achieved the partial suspension on three neonicotinoid-based substances. Following the decision, Bayer, Syngenta and BASF sued the Commission, challenging its right of the to impose the suspensions. Today, five years later, the European Court of Justice dismissed all actions presented by Bayer and Syngenta regarding clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid. However, the ruling for BASF’s fipronil has not been the same, even though it does not enable their commercialisation.

Even though the ECJ has confirmed the legality of the ban on Bayer and Syngenta owned substances, assessing the proper application of the precautionary principle, it has found that restrictions on fipronil have been adopted “without having assessed the consequences of its actions”. Implementing regulation 781/2013 regarding restrictions of fipronil is therefore annulled. Yet, a more recent ban regarding the use and marketing of fipronil (March 2014) still stands. BASF’s actions regarding such restrictions have been dismissed since the company does not market seeds treated with such pesticide.

The ruling by the ECJ provides a clear confirmation and falls in line with recent events, particularly considering that Member States have voted in favour to extend the ban on neonicotinoids to all open-air uses. Member States followed the risk assessment published by the European Safety Authority (EFSA), soon after the ERDOS report on the beekeeping sector had been also approved in the European Parliament.

BeeLife, along other European NGOs, intervened in the court case supporting the 2013 ban approved by the Commission. Francesco Panella, president of BeeLife, has welcomed the news and stated: “We are delighted with the ruling of the Court today. It contributes to keep having faith in the system. The precaution seems to be one of the basic principles underlying EU policy after all. We would only wish for a less lengthy process. While we wait for measures to be implemented, the ecological catastrophe produced by these products does not stop”.

After today’s announcement, bees, other pollinators and the environment can continue to look for a brighter future, even if there is still no indication if the crop protection industry will appeal the ruling.

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