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.
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. For more information in this regard please see the following report:
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:
Despite these measures, the decline of pollinators has continued. In 2015 the mid-term review of the EU biodiversity strategy to 2020 also showed that animal pollination services might be significantly declining in the EU as well. In response to the review, the European Parliament called on the Commission to launch an EU initiative on pollinators. The Council stressed the need to protect pollinators and their habitats in order to mitigate and stop their decline. In December 2016 the parties of the Convention on Biological Diversity highlighted the important contribution of pollinators to the Sustainable Development Goals, endorsed the conclusions of the IPBES report on pollinators, pollination and food production and invited governments, organizations and stakeholders to use it in their efforts to promote the conservation of pollinators.
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:
The roadmap was open for comments until 29 December 2017. Please find the received feedback here.
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. The consultation strategy includes the following activities:Public consultation
A 12-week public consultation was launched on 11 January 2018 and was open until 5 April 2018 in the form of an online questionnaire. It was available in 23 EU languages. All individuals and organisations were invited to respond to the public consultation, regardless of their level of expertise about the problem. A total of 66 579 responses were received.
A 2-day workshop took place on 15 and 16 March 2018 in Brussels. Through seven sessions, it addressed various aspects of the problem of pollinator declines and how the EU can tackle it. More than 100 experts provided additional evidence, experience and technical expertise in specific fields, which will inform the development of the initiative, including from Member States administrations, research and academia, environmental non-governmental organisations (NGOs), the business sector including farming and beekeeping sector, food industry, landscape architecture, urban management, and spatial planning.
A number of European Commission expert groups and committees are consulted in order to scope additional information across sectoral policies regarding actions relevant for pollinators. Views and suggestions are also collected from experts in national authorities on how to improve the effectiveness of those policy actions for pollinators.
On 23 October 2017 the UN Environment World Conservation Monitoring Centre (UNEP-WCMC) organized on behalf of the European Commission a workshop Knowledge on pollinators and pollination in the EU. Although the workshop took place before the launch of the consultation activities on the EU Pollinators Initiative, its outputs provide a valuable contribution towards the evidence base on pollinators and will be taken into account in the preparation of the initiative. For more information please see the workshop summary:
Directorate D Natural Capital
Unit D2 Biodiversity