EU Court of Justice Definitely Confirms Ban on Neonicotinoids in Europe

Updated: May 7

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In 2013, the European Commission partially suspended three neonicotinoid-based substances (imidacloprid, clothianidin and thiamethoxam). Following the decision, Bayer sued the Commission, challenging its right to impose the suspensions. Today, the European Court of Justice has definitely ruled in favour of the Commission's ban [1]. The ruling dismisses Bayer's attempt to overturn the Court's decision of May 17, 2018 [2].


After eight years of legal battle, the European Court confirms the legality of the neonicotinoid ban. The 2013 partial ban was already applying EU's precautionary principle, in guidance with developments and information from scientific facts.


Throughout the process, environmental NGOs supported the European Commission and argued for the legality and necessity of the ban to the Court. Greenpeace Europe, Pesticide Action Network Europe, Buglife and BeeLife endorsed the ban and celebrate today's ruling.


The Court's Advocate General Juliane Kokott had already stated that "the Commission may review the approval of an active substance at any time" [3], establishing that such types of re-evaluations are legally acceptable. The negative impacts that neonicotinoids have brought upon bees, affecting their essential role in ecosystems, are well documented today. It has even concluded with a more comprehensive ban in 2018 [4].


BeeLife's Scientific director, Noa Simon Delso, stated: "We are very happy for today's ruling. The Court supported implementing the precautionary principle, and bees, pollinators, and all insects are better off thanks to this decision. We now hope that thanks to this ruling, it will become easier to withdraw the authorisation of dangerous pesticides."


Today's ruling is a new step towards enhanced protection of bees and defending a fact-based precautionary principle in Europe. We now need to improve the respect of the ban and tackle the ongoing abuse of emergency authorisations by some member states. Besides, a constant improvement of risk assessment for current and future substances before entering the market is still needed.



References:


[1] Court of Justice of the European Union. 2021. JUDGMENT OF THE COURT (First Chamber)

6 May 2021 (*) (Appeal – Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 – Articles 4 and 21 – Criteria for approval – Review of approval – Plant protection products – Implementing Regulation (EU) No 485/2013 – Active substances clothianidin and imidacloprid – Seeds treated with plant protection products containing those active substances – Prohibition of non-professional use – Precautionary principle). https://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=240844&pageIndex=0&doclang=EN&mode=req&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=199835

[2] BeeLife. 2020. European Court of Justice Confirms Ban on Neonicotinoids. https://www.bee-life.eu/post/2018/05/17/european-court-of-justice-confirms-ban-on-neonicotinoids

[3] Court of Justice of the European Union. 2020. OPINION OF ADVOCATE GENERAL KOKOTT delivered on 17 September 2020. Case C‑499/18 P Bayer CropScience AG and Bayer AG v European Commission. http://curia.europa.eu/juris/document/document.jsf?text=&docid=231204&pageIndex=0&doclang=en&mode=lst&dir=&occ=first&part=1&cid=2912887

[4] BeeLife 2018. Neonicotinoids Banned to All Open-Air Uses in the EU. https://www.bee-life.eu/post/2018/04/27/nenoicotinoids-banned-to-all-open-air-uses-in-the-eu