Earlier this year, we published an article on the European Citizens’ Initiative (ECI) “Save Bees and Farmers”. Now, the phase to collect signatures has ended and the organisers collected more than 1 Million signatures! This means that the EU institutions have to consider the claims of the initiative.
Written by Sophia Stille // 07.10.2021
In the past decades, European agriculture has become more effective and productive through advanced farming methods, technology and pesticides. This, however, has had negative implications on Europe’s biodiversity, animal habitats and farmers’ lives.
In 2019, a large network of organisations and individuals launched the European Citizens’ Initiative “Save bees and farmers” (read more here), in order to raise awareness on this pressing issue. The organisers explain on their website how agricultural policies are designed to achieve the highest yields possible, thereby destroying our ecosystems and biodiversity. Day-by-day, bees, insects and butterflies are disappearing from our landscapes to make space for more farmland.
But not only nature and biodiversity are under threat! Large-scale industrial agriculture is putting pressure on small farming communities and over the past ten years, on average, one farm had to give up business every 3 minutes!
In order to counteract these developments, more than 140 NGOs, civil society actors, farmers and beekeepers associations collaborated in the ECI. Their aim is to change EU policies in order to save Europe’s biodiversity, combat climate change, while at the same time fighting for the livelihoods of smaller farming communities. They demand the European Union to ensure that agriculture is
- free of synthetic pesticides;
- and respectful of the life of animals, plants and humans
On September 30th, the collection phase ended and the organisers were able to collect 1.16 Million signatures. This means that the European Commission needs to consider the claims and publish an answer. In the coming months, the ECI will be verified by National Authorities. Once this is done, the organisers will meet with representatives of the European Commission and have the chance to present the initiative at a public hearing in the European Parliament. The European Commission has 6 months to publish its answer, including a formal list of actions and a clear timeline for the future.
On Twitter, statements about the successful collection phase were published and the organisers were overwhelmed by the support. Now, it is up to the European Commission to develop legislation that leads to a sustainable, bee-friendly and pesticide-free agriculture in the EU!
The ECI mechanism was created to make it possible for citizens to get involved in EU policy-making. For an initiative to be successful, the organisers need to collect 1 million signatures from citizens of at least 7 different EU countries. This has now been the case and two years after the launching of the initiative, the organisers reached the needed threshold of 1 Million signatures.