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The EU approach to tackle pollinator decline

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.

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:

EU Pollinators Initiative

On 1 June 2018, the European Commission adopted a Communication on the first-ever EU initiative on pollinators. The Initiative which sets strategic objectives and a set of actions to be taken by the EU and its Member States to address the decline of pollinators in the EU and contribute to global conservation efforts. It sets the framework for an integrated approach to the problem and a more effective use of existing tools and policies. The initiative sets actions under three priorities:

  1. Improving knowledge of pollinator decline, its causes and consequences
  2. Tackling the causes of pollinator decline
  3. Raising awareness, engaging society-at-large and promoting collaboration

More information:

Consultation on the EU Pollinators Initiative

The consultation aimed to ensure that all relevant stakeholders that may have an interest in pollinators and pollination had an opportunity to express their views on the problem of pollinator declines and an EU approach to tackle it. It also collected additional evidence and insights in order to inform specific elements of the initiative.

Given the broad public interest in this subject, a wide range of stakeholders was 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 included the following activities:

Public consultation: A public consultation took place between 11 January 2018 and 5 April 2018 in the form of an online questionnaire. It was available in 23 EU languages. A total of 66 579 responses were received.

Consultation of experts: 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.

In addition several European Commission expert groups and committees were consulted

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

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