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EU Pollinators Initiative

Pollinators are a diverse group of animals that pollinate crops and wild plants. Pollination is the transfer of pollen between the male and female parts of flowers and is a vital step in the fertilization and reproduction of plants. In Europe, pollinators are primarily insects like bees, hoverflies, butterflies, moths, beetles and other fly species. Some of these species are domesticated, like for example honey bees. Nearly 4 out of 5 wild flowers need animal pollination, while more than 4 out of 5 crops benefit from it.

In the past decades, pollinators have declined in occurrence and diversity in the EU. Our understanding of the status and trends of pollinators, the threats they face and the consequences of their loss has significantly improved in recent times thanks to a growing body of research, in particular the European Red List of bees and butterflies, ALARM and STEP projects. Although we do not yet have the full picture, these have shown that the decline of pollinators is serious and primarily a consequence of human activities. The need for a strategic intervention across different sectors in tackling this complex challenge has been most recently highlighted by the IPBES report on pollinators, pollination and food production, the first global assessment of pollinators. In 2015 the Commission published the mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 which showed that animal pollination services in order might be significantly decreasing.

The decline in pollinator abundance and diversity leads to the loss of animal pollination. In 2015 the Commission published the mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 which showed that animal pollination services might be already significantly decreasing.

It is considered that multiple drivers are responsible for the decline of pollinators. According to the IPBES report direct threats to pollinators include land-use change, intensive agricultural management and pesticide use, environmental pollution, invasive alien species, pathogens and climate change.

There are a number of national and regional pollinator strategies in EU Member States. While there is no specific policy on pollinators at the EU level, the EU already undertakes a broad range of actions beneficial to pollinators under existing legislation and policies, notably under:

The Roadmap

The Commission published on 1 December 2017 a Roadmap for the EU Pollinators Initiative. This is the first step in the development of the initiative. The roadmap presents the problem, the aim of the initiative and possible options how to achieve the aim. The initiative may be structured around the following specific objectives:

  • Improving knowledge on pollinators
  • Tackling the causes of the decline of pollinators
  • Raising awareness and improving collaboration and knowledge sharing

We invite citizens and stakeholders to provide feedback on the roadmap. This will be possible for a period of 4 weeks from its publication.

Consultation Strategy

The consultation aims to ensure that all relevant stakeholders that may have an interest in pollinators and pollination have an opportunity to express their views on the problem of pollinator declines and an EU approach to tackle it. It also aims to collect additional evidence and insights in order to inform specific elements of the initiative. The consultation will cover the problem to be tackled and underlying drivers, the issue of subsidiarity and the EU dimension to the problem as well as potential mitigation measures.

Given the broad public interest in this subject, a wide range of stakeholders will be consulted including citizens, scientists, environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), farmers, farmers' associations and farm advisors, beekeepers, rural communities, the agro- and food industry, landscape architects, educational institutions and public authorities.

Planned consultation activities include:

  • consultation of Commission Expert Groups
  • workshops with experts and Member State authorities dealing in particular with:
    • pollinators and pollination service;
    • biodiversity and nature conservation;
    • land management in rural areas, especially agriculture;
    • urban development and planning.
  • a 12-week open public consultation in all 24 official EU languages accessible online via the Commission's public consultations page (expected to be launched in the beginning of 2018)

More detailed information on consultation activities will follow soon.


Directorate D Natural Capital

Unit D2 Biodiversity

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