VIENNA (Reuters) – An Austrian law banning all uses of the weedkiller glyphosate, the first such national ban in the European Union, cannot go into force on Jan. 1 as planned because the European Commission was not properly notified, the government said on Monday.
Chancellor Brigitte Bierlein, a judge who heads a provisional government of civil servants that has said it will not take far-reaching political decisions, must also sign the bill for it to enter into force.
Her government will be in place until a ruling coalition is formed. Conservatives led by former Chancellor Sebastian Kurz are in coalition talks with the left-wing Greens but they say significant differences remain.
The Commission needed to be notified of the bill, which was passed by parliament in July, so that both it and member states could express their views, a letter by Bierlein posted online said. Whether the law could still take effect later was not immediately clear.
“Such a notification of a bill – required by European Union law and specified (in the bill) as a condition for it to take effect – was, however, not carried out properly,” Bierlein said in her letter to the speaker of the lower house of parliament. The letter was posted online by the government’s spokesman.
Glyphosate was developed by Monsanto, now part of Germany’s Bayer, under the brand Roundup. It is now off-patent and marketed worldwide by dozens of other chemical groups.
Concerns about its safety emerged when a World Health Organization agency concluded in 2015 that it probably causes cancer. Bayer says studies and regulators have deemed glyphosate and Roundup safe for human use. The company faces lawsuits over claims the product causes non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Reporting by Francois Murphy, Editing by Louise Heavens and Mark Potter