Brussels Region Challenges EU Glyphosate Vote

25.03.2018 -

The government of Belgium’s Brussels region has lodged a complaint against the European Commission in the European Court of Justice (ECJ) over its decision late last year to reauthorize the total herbicide glyphosate for five more years.

Press reports said the complaint charges that the Commission had breached the precautionary principle, called for in case of scientific uncertainty about a risk to health or the environment.

Belgium was one of the nine member states to vote against the glyphosate renewal but the country’s national government said it did not plan to appeal the vote. It was unclear whether the court would accept the complaint as it was made by a region rather than a member state.

 “Even if the Brussels-Capital Region is not a privileged applicant in the same way as the member states, arguments should demonstrate that the regulation directly affects the exercise of powers of the Brussels region in the field of environment,” Stéphane Vanwijnsberghe, a counselor in the Office of the Minister of the Environment, told the trade journal Euractiv.

The Brussels government in November 2017 banned the use of glyphosate on its territory in line with the region’s “zero pesticides” policy.

According to Vanwijnsberghe, unreviewed assessments commissioned by industry were given too much weight and studies published in peer-reviewed journals too little.

Following last November’s vote – which took an unexpected term after the German agriculture minister broke a government consensus on remaining neutral and voted in favor of the renewal – six member states that had opposed the five-year renewal called on the Commission to study alternatives to the weed killer.

Glyphosate, which is the active substance in Monsanto’s Roundup agrochemicals portfolio, will belong to Bayer in future, if the German group’s planned acquisition of the US chemical producer clears US regulatory authorities – its last hurdle.