Brussels briefing: Glyphosate license in legal limbo
Published 15/06/2016 | 02:30
The EU's health chief was fuming last week after governments refused to decide whether contentious weedkiller glyphosate should be allowed in Europe beyond June.
The move throws the bloc into legal limbo as the licence for glyphosate, the world's most-used herbicide and the active ingredient in Monsanto's Roundup, expires at the end of the month.
Officials in the European Commission are baffled at the stance taken by Germany, France and Italy, who sat out a June 6 vote on whether to extend the current licence temporarily, pending new scientific advice due next year.
EU majority rules require at least one of the three big countries to come on side, but they are so far refusing to show their hand, prompting a firm rebuke from commissioner for health and food safety Vytenis Andriukaitis, who accused them of "hiding behind" Brussels on the issue.
Commission officials are fed up with what they see as political posturing over what should be a technical issue.
They will face off with national ambassadors when the issue comes up for an appeal hearing on June 24.
If there is still no majority in favour of reauthorising the chemical, the Commission can force the temporary extension through, as it has done in the past for certain genetically modified organisms.
But the EU executive wants to avoid being left holding responsibility while the science is still split over whether there is a link between glyphosate and cancer.