Legal opinion shows Commission has wide range of legal options on glyphosate
Commission president Jean Claude Juncker could restrict the use of glyphosate across the EU in response to major public and government opposition to its use, a top EU law professor has said, ahead of a crunch vote on whether to approve a new license for the cancer-linked chemical.
Some Commission figures have argued Juncker does not have the legal freedom to follow the European Parliament’s recommendation to include new restrictions in the proposals which will be put to a vote of member states today.
But a legal opinion published today by Alberto Alemanno, a professor of EU law at the international business school HEC Paris, shows that EU rules would allow the Commission to compromise on additional restrictions, or simply allow glyphosate’s current license to expire, rather than take an undemocratic decision to impose a glyphosate license on Europe. The opinion was commissioned by Avaaz, the global citizens’ movement.
Alemanno wrote in the opinion: "The European Parliament proposals are clear, effective and proportionate and largely reflect what millions of EU citizens have asked the Commission to do in the framework of the Stop Glyphosate ECI [European Citizens' Initiative] and petitions by campaign groups such as Avaaz and WeMove. There is still time for the Commission to listen. Indeed that is the expectation in the current process and it is open to it to respond with an improved proposal and, if that fails, to allow the glyphosate licence to expire."
Alemanno further commented in a press release circulated by Avaaz: “The Commission has the powers it needs to move towards the European Parliament and member states’ position on restricting the use of glyphosate - the doubts it raises are an unnecessary distraction. The real question is simply whether it has the political will to compromise in the face of massive public concern.”
Luis Morago, Avaaz Campaign Director, said: “The overwhelming majority of European people and the European parliament want glyphosate banned, and member states have rejected the Commission's proposal to extend the license seven times. The message is clear, now the question is: will Juncker uphold democracy or rule by decree putting Monsanto’ profits before Europe’s health and environment.”
Major EU governments including Germany, France, Austria and Italy have refused seven times to approve Commission proposals to grant the chemical a new license. Meanwhile, the European Parliament has endorsed a phase-out of glyphosate over 5 years and an immediate ban on private use.
Two-thirds of Europeans support a ban for glyphosate, and the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) to ban glyphosate is the fastest ECI to ever reach the legal requirements, with over 1.3 million signatures collected across Europe between February and July 2017.
The World Health Organisation’s cancer agency IARC has warned that glyphosate is a probable human carcinogen.