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Decision in case 12/2013/MDC on the practices of the European Commission regarding the authorisation and placing on the market of plant protection products (pesticides)

The complainant, the Pesticide Action Network Europe, alleged that the practices of the European Commission regarding the approval of active substances for plant protection products (pesticides) in the EU are, in some instances, unsafe and/or not in accordance with the relevant legislation. The Ombudsman inquired into the Commission's practices.

The Ombudsman's analysis dealt with (i) the Commission's approvals of active substances while at the same time also requesting data which supports that approval, (ii) the approval of ten specific active substances in light of reservations expressed by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA), (iii) the way in which the Commission uses mitigation measures, and (iv) the Commission's inspections in Member States.

In June 2015 the Ombudsman proposed a solution in this case to the Commission. In proposing her solution, the Ombudsman considered that the Commission, which has the duty to ensure that the active substances it approves are not harmful for human health, animal health, or the environment, may be too lenient in its practices and might not be taking sufficient account of the precautionary principle. The Ombudsman therefore made several proposals aimed at improving the Commission's practices with a view to ensuring that human health, animal health and the environment are effectively protected in the EU.

The Ombudsman found that the Commission has now largely accepted her proposals for a solution. Since the implementation of the proposals necessarily takes time, the Commission's compliance with these proposals can be verified only if the Commission reports to the Ombudsman on the action it has taken in order to comply with the proposals. The Ombudsman therefore requested the Commission to submit to her a report covering a number of specific points within two years of her decision.