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Vienna to vote against EU glyphosate re-approval

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Austria will vote against the European Commission’s proposal to renew the approval of glyphosate, the country’s agriculture ministry confirmed on Monday (25 September).

After the European Commission submitted its proposal to re-approve glyphosate, the most widely used herbicide in the EU, for ten years, EU countries are now set to decide on the contentious draft.

In the vote, scheduled for the October meeting of the EU’s Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (PAFF), Vienna will vote against the renewal, the country’s agriculture ministry told news agency APA on Monday.

As a ministry spokesperson confirmed to Euractiv, the Austrian government is legally obliged to vote against any renewed approval of glyphosate at the European level following a 2017 decision in the national parliament’s EU affairs committee.

At the time, the Greens, the Social Democrats, and the far-right Freedom Party (FP?) passed a motion on the matter, which is still binding to centre-right agriculture minister Norbert Totschnig now, even though his Austrian People’s Party (?VP) voted against it at the time.

Meanwhile, the Greens, the ?VP’s current junior partner in government, welcomed the ministry’s commitment to abide by the parliamentary decision and vote against renewing glyphosate.

“The task now is to ban glyphosate from our fields throughout Europe. Austria is doing its part,” the party’s agricultural policy spokesman, Clemens Stammler, said in a statement.

Stammler also called on other countries to follow Vienna’s example.

“We are in close contact with our Green colleagues in Europe, for example in Germany and in the European Parliament,” he said.

In Germany, Green agriculture minister Cem ?zdemir told Euractiv last week that he is pushing against the re-approval and is also lobbying other countries on the matter.

However, he could end up being forced to abstain rather than vote against the Commission’s proposal, as the Liberals in government have said they are in favour of the re-approval.

If the coalition partners disagree on EU matters, it is customary for the German government to abstain.

According to French MEP Pascal Canfin – who’s a member of Macron’s party – his country will also not vote in favour of the Commission proposal.

However, the hurdle for EU countries to block the Commission’s draft is high: Ultimately, the regulation can only be formally blocked if a qualified majority of member states vote against it.

This means that at least 55% of member states representing at least 65% of the EU population would have to not only abstain but actively vote against the Commission’s draft re-approval.

[Edited by Gerardo Fortuna/Nathalie Weatherald]

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