The Parliament rejects cultivating the wrong seeds of the Commission

Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE) and M. THEN from "No patents on Seeds" hand over a letter to Martin Schulz, European Parliament President (EP Audiovisual Services).

Evelyne Gebhardt (S&D, DE) and M. THEN from “No patents on Seeds” group hand over a letter to Martin Schulz, European Parliament President (EP Audiovisual Services).

Production, reproduction, trade and use of seeds for sowing are highly complex activities with far-reaching implications, affecting the entire agro-food sector. They concern mainly the productivity in the cultivation of cereals and oil seeds; that is, products which play a crucial role in food self-sufficiency and constitute the very base of the entire food chain, including animal products through the availability of feed. Practically, seeds are the very foundations of the daily nourishment of hundreds of millions of Europeans. That’s why the Agriculture Committee of European Parliament almost unanimously threw back to the face of the Commission the entire new draft seed regulation, with 37 votes to two.

Seed development and reproduction is an ancient activity, actually it is an integral part of our civilization and the very base of economic and social advancement of every society. The MEPs reacted so strongly to the Commission’s proposal, and they went so far as to tell the relevant Commissioner to entirely rewrite the draft law and bring it to the next Parliament after the May election.

Seeds, the perennial cause

Conscious of the wide and long-term implications of such a far-reaching reform of this sector, the Parliament rapporteur Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris (EPP, IT) said “The Commission’s proposal arrived too late to allow the European Parliament enough time to tackle this fundamental piece of legislation for the seed sector fully and responsibly. And I believe that content here is more crucial than deadlines. We therefore approved an oral question asking the Commission whether it is prepared to withdraw the proposal with view to submitting a new, improved draft to the newly elected European Parliament. In plenary session, we shall also vote on a non-legislative resolution, which will summarise our concerns and will provide a good basis for the Commission to improve its proposal”.

Other MEPs said that the proposal failed to meet core objectives such as simplifying the rules and promoting innovation or to deal with plants viewed as generic resources. Agricultural Committee chair Paolo De Castro (S&D, IT) stressed, “We have sent a strong signal to the Commission today that the Agriculture Committee is not happy with the proposal as tabled, which prompted many concerns among MEPs. We are worried that merging 12 directives into one [directly applicable] regulation would offer member states no room for manoeuvre to adapt the proposed rules to their needs, while the high number of delegated acts would give the Commission excessively wide powers, especially over heterogeneous material and niche markets”.

A less cooperative legislative

The fact that the Commission proposal was rejected almost unanimously in the Committee, determines its future course. The Parliament will examine the proposal thoroughly in its next plenary. If the House follows the Committee’s recommendation that is, reject the proposal, the President of the European Parliament will ask the Commission to withdraw it.

Given that there is not time to rewrite such a complex draft law in a few weeks, it’s highly probable that the new version will be submitted to the new Parliament. It becomes clear that the current legislative is not prepared to help the Commission clear all its desks before the new MEPs arrive. Everybody can imagine, and more so the Brussels bureaucracy, that the new Parliament will be much less cooperative with the other EU bodies.

In short, the Commission and the Council will have a rough time after May. It seems that the last concession the Parliament is prepared to do, relates to the haste enactment of the European Banking Union. And this will be with a cost to Germany and France, the two countries which are pressed to have the banking sector regulated according to their needs before May.

 

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