Beekeepers, scientists, policy-makers and other relevant parties are to set up a European bee partnership that could transform the way bee health is assessed in the EU – Brussels-2017-26th of June.

Comment by Dr. Friedrich Hainbuch, ANME:

As a participant of group TWO I can only speak for this group. In principle, I can say that many delegates and representatives of various EU institutions were involved. Also many representatives of the agrochemical groups and a few scientists attended.
I missed critical and rather skeptical scientists, such as Thomas Seeley, Randolf Menzel, Prof. Tautz, Dr. Safer, Dr. Alexandra Henrion-Claude or G.-E. SérTalini.

In this spectrum research and industrial interests were located, on one side:
The first EU-wide field-study which documents bee-damaging by neonicotinoids, "The degradation rate of thiamethoxam in European field studies"  and on the other side a contradictory study, commissioned by BAYER industries, which showed that Imidacloprid and other neonicotinoids were absolutely non-toxic for bees.

The pledge was the main outcome of a major scientific meeting held in Brussels yesterday entitled “Towards a European Bee Partnership” that was attended by more than 120 delegates from scientific organizations, EU bodies, researchers, beekeeper and farmers’ groups, and NGOs.

Willingness to collaborate

Simon More, who chairs ’s MUST-B working group on risks to bees, said: “One clear theme from today’s meeting is that there is a willingness to collaborate on the part of all the groups represented here.

“We have a clear way forward: EFSA will facilitate the establishment of a group to make the European Bee Partnership happen. But this is just the beginning. Many more discussions will be needed to make this partnership as broad and representative as possible.”

He added: “This has to be a partnership of stakeholders for stakeholders, a partnership of the willing founded on mutual trust. That is the only way it can be successful.”

Robust assessment of bee health

The main focus of the meeting, held as part of the European Parliament’s annual Week of Bees and Pollination, was on how to improve the collection and sharing of data on bees.

Mariya Gabriel MEP, Chair of the European Parliament’s Working Group on Apiculture and Bee Health, said in an opening statement: “The spirit of Bee Week has always been to call for greater collaboration among all sectors and levels. The presence of so many stakeholders and experts today is heartening; your efforts and valuable contributions will be decisive in making this event a success.

“However, our goal must extend beyond Bee Week. It is essential that beekeepers, scientists, NGOs, manufacturers, farmers, veterinarians and the EU institutions continue, in the long term, to pool their efforts to achieve better data sharing and management, strengthen our collaboration and enable a more robust assessment of bee health in the EU.”

She added that EFSA’s work in the area of bee health and its multi-disciplinary expertise would be of great value in steering such a project. EFSA co-hosted the meeting with the farmers’ association COPA-COGECA, the European Professional Beekeepers Association (EPBA), Bee Life (European Beekeeping Coordination) and the European Crop Protection Association (ECPA).

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As a first step towards the adoption of a Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe the Commission published on 2nd of July a roadmap, inviting interested citizens and stakeholders to share their views on the Strategy. Scheduled to be adopted before the end of the year, the overall objective of the Pharmaceutical Strategy for Europe is to help ensure Europe's supply of safe and affordable medicines and support the European pharmaceutical industry to remain an innovator and world leader.

Stella Kyriakides, Commissioner in charge of Health & Food Safety, said:

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Citizens, experts and stakeholders are invited to give, until 7 July 2020, their feedback to the roadmap through the Better Regulation Portal and consult the dedicated website for additional information and to follow updates. This roadmap will be followed by a public consultation.

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