Giving bees the place they deserve in the heart of the EU’s common agricultural policy

2018. 01. 30.

The EP Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development has finally approved the Honey Report, a study on the conditions facing European beekeepers and honey producers that has been the focus of my work for months.

The report enjoyed nearly full support in the expert committee. It’s quite rare, I noted shortly after the vote, that all parliamentary groups agree on a matter of such importance, and this vote clearly reflects a unity on the issue of protecting beekeepers and bees. As an MEP for Hungary, which is a major producer of honey, I understand how vital is this issue.

Beekeeping and honey-production has not been promoted so clearly for many years in the European Union than elsewhere in the World. While the US spends 2 billion EUR annually on artificial pollination, the EU has never granted the same level of priority to pollination which largely contributes to EU farming and food-making. That’s short-sighted. Pollination and honey production play also a major role in maintaining ecological balance and biological diversity.

In fact, the beekeeping sector plays an integral part of European agriculture and has become a source of income for over 620,000 EU citizens. While the value of honey production makes a modest contribution to GDP, the real importance of the sector far exceeds that output. Considering that 84 percent of plant species and 76 percent of Europe’s food production depend on pollination by bees, a more realistic estimate of the sector’s value puts it at 14.2 million EUR annually.

The report entitled, “Prospects and challenges for the EU apiculture sector,” was originally authored by European beekeepers and included concrete proposals compiled from requests by EU and national beekeeper associations. Later, I elaborated on the original text with 39 amendments. In fact, we were able to resolve 95 percent of the political questions that came up after the shadow rapporteur meeting last December.

The report will be discussed publicly at the European Parliament’s plenary session February 28 and will be put to a vote March 1. I trust we can count on the same levels of support that we received from the members of the Committee on Agriculture and Rural Development.

In any case, focus on this important issue must continue, and I will continue my fight against adultered honey and excessive or inappropriate use of pesticides and for continued support to beekeepers in the future.

Norbert Erdős