One in ten pollinating insects is on the verge of extinction, and a third of bee and butterfly species is declining. The European Commission recently proposed the first-ever European Union (EU) initiative to address the decline of wild pollinating insects.

The new measures include a new indicator to improve monitoring and data, and better coordination of EU action across different sectors and policies to address the social and economic implications of the decline in pollinating insects.

Commissioner for Agriculture and Rural Development, Phil Hogan said: “Our farmers’ future and the wellbeing of our rural communities depend on healthy ecosystems with rich biodiversity. The tireless work of insect pollinators enables that richness. While their work comes for free, it is invaluable in maintaining the flow of goods and services from nature that underpin our existence. We need to urgently stop their decline.”

Commissioner for Health and Food Safety, Vytenis Andriukaitis said: “Following the Commission’s proposal, the EU recently banned the outdoor use of three pesticides known as neonicotinoids that have been proven to be harmful for both honey bees and wild bees. Today’s initiative further demonstrates our utmost commitment to protect pollinators through a broad range of actions.”

The Commission is proposing:

Measures to improve knowledge of pollinator decline, including the causes and consequences. An EU monitoring process for pollinators will provide quality data on the status and trends of pollinator species. The Commission is also proposing a list of habitats important to pollinating insects, and assessment of their condition based on reporting of Member States under the Habitats Directive. In addition, the Commission is proposing to launch a project to monitor the presence of pesticides in the environment. Horizon 2020 will continue to promote research and innovation in this area.

Measures to tackle the causes of the decline, such as action plans for the habitats of the most threatened pollinating insects and identifying conservation and management approaches to help Member States. The Commission is also proposing to mitigate EU action across health, agricultural, research, cohesion, climate and environmental policies to achieve better results.

To raise awareness, engage citizens and promote collaboration. The Commission will guide and incentivise businesses, in particular in the agri-food sector, to contribute to conservation. Educational material on pollinators will be provided to schools and through the European Solidarity Corps, and volunteering in projects that benefit communities and the environment will be encouraged.

This new initiative on pollinators is the Commission’s response to calls by the European Parliament and Member States for action to protect pollinators and their habitats and to mitigate their decline. Click here to read the full press release. – European Commission press release