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The Joint Research Centre (JRC) is the European Commission's science and knowledge service which employs scientists to carry out research in order to provide independent scientific advice and support to EU policy.
In response to calls by the European Parliament and Member States for action to protect and mitigate the decline of pollinators and their habitats, the European Commission has today adopted a Communication on the first-ever EU initiative on pollinators.
The EU Pollinators Initiative sets strategic objectives and 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.
The JRC participated in the expert working group to help prepare this new policy on pollinators, and contributed to the drafting of the communication and the accompanying staff working document. Particular reference is made to the JRC report on natural capital accounts* which proposes a first EU wide experimental pollination account. This account assesses at the EU scale the contributions of wild pollinating insects to the production of fruits and vegetables which are dependent on insect pollination.
The initiative sets out measures to improve knowledge regarding pollinator decline (including the state of their most important habitats and a project to monitor the presence of pesticides in the environment), tackle the causes of this decline (through conservation and management approaches), and raise awareness, engage citizens and promote collaboration (with guidance and incentives, educational material and community projects).
The objectives of the EU Pollinators Initiative set a long-term perspective towards 2030, with a number of short term actions to be implemented until 2020. By the end of 2020, the Commission will review the progress on the implementation and, if necessary, propose further action.
Despite several EU measures in place to conserve and protect pollinators, their numbers continue to decline, and the services they provide may already be decreasing significantly.
Pollination is one of the key processes in nature which enables the reproduction of plants and therefore contributes to the maintenance of species biodiversity. In the EU alone, four out of five crop and wild flower species depend on insect pollination. Pollinators are mainly insects, in particular bees and hoverflies, but also butterflies, moths, some beetles and other flying insects. Up to €15 billion of the EU's annual agricultural output is directly attributed to insect pollinators (notably domesticated honey bees, wild bee species such as solitary bees and bumblebees, as well as other pollinating species). Besides productivity, pollinators support the variety of food sources (such as honey), enabling diverse and nutrient-rich diets. Action is necessary to safeguard biodiversity, agriculture and food security.
By strengthening support for conservation actions under the International Pollinators Initiative and fostering international collaboration through the Coalition of the Willing on Pollinators, the EU Pollinators Initiative will help the EU take a more active role in global conservation efforts for pollinators.
* JRC Technical Report: Ecosystem services accounting: Part I - Outdoor recreation and crop pollination