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I see in the news that Germany's Minister of Food and Agriculture Christian Schmidt voted with yes for Glyphosat, although he should have abstained, because of a dissent in the grand coalition.

My question is, did his vote change the outcome? I saw that 18 of the 28 EU countries voted with yes. I guess one only needs 15 votes for the agreement, so a yes or a no would not have changed anything, or am I wrong?

Secondly, I read:

In all previous votes, no sufficient majority was reached.

Why were there several votes on this issue anyway? And did many Ministers from different EU countries suddenly change their opinion?

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    For those of us not wired into German politics, what the heck is "Glyphosat"? – ohwilleke Nov 28 '17 at 3:29
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    @ohwilleke - it's a controversial herbicide (usually known as Roundup). Not JUST in Germany. GMO deniers don't like it much. – user4012 Nov 28 '17 at 3:40
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    @user4012 And what precisely was decided? There is no link to any context here. A vote "for Glyphosat" would ordinary be a phrasing used when you elected someone to office, you don't vote for or against an herbicide, you vote for or against some kind of regulation and it isn't clear what was at issue. – ohwilleke Nov 28 '17 at 3:43
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    @ohwilleke: Glyphosate only has temporary permission to be used in the European Union, and that permission was due to expire in December. Glyphosate is controversial because of possible risks to health (see user4012’s comments) and the environment. Several member states were opposed to extending the permission, others undecided. In Germany, there was a deadlock between the minister for agriculture (in favour of an extension) and the minister for the environment (against), which meant that Germany was supposed to abstain. A hung committee would have left the decision to the European Commission. – chirlu Nov 28 '17 at 5:50
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    @ohwilleke To complement (improve?) user4012's information(?), while a number of agencies have endorsed glyphosat (EPA, European Food Safety Authority and others) some like the International Agency for Cancer Research (part of the WHO, those GMO deniers) believe it might cause cancer, and the issue is further complicated by Monsanto's attempts at coverup and silencing of any critical studies. Here there is a rather complete review: spiegel.de/international/world/… – SJuan76 Nov 28 '17 at 9:39
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This appears to one of the situations where EU decisions require a qualified majority of 55% of member states (i.e. 16), representing 65% of the EU population. This makes Germany, with 16% of the EU population, one of the key decision makers, especially with France (13%) firmly in the no camp. The eventual margin was 65.7%

There does appear to have been some movement over time as the length of the potential new licence varied. According to articles from 24 June 2016 the vote at the appeals committee had France and Malta voted against the proposal and Germany, Italy, Portugal, Austria, Luxemburg, Greece and Bulgaria abstained, with the remaining 19 member states supporting the proposal, which left the decision deadlocked, as it had been at previous votes.

Meanwhile the final vote on 27th November 2017 had Belgium, Greece, France, Croatia, Italy, Cyprus, Luxembourg, Malta, and Austria opposing and Portugal abstaining. A slightly out of date history of the story from Greenpeace (admittedly a partisan news source) can be found here.

  • I understand that a vote for something is either accepted or rejected - but in whihc situation is it deadlock? Was it 50:50 before? – Adam Nov 28 '17 at 9:24
  • @Adam Deadlock might be the wrong term, perhaps "insufficient consensus". At previous meetings there was a sufficient majority of states voting for licensing, and relatively few actively opposing, however sufficiently many large states abstained that it wasn't reaching the %65 of population mark. In this situation, it was decided to extend the deadline, theoretically to take more scientific evidence, and carry on talking. – origimbo Nov 28 '17 at 10:30
  • @Adam: Due to the required qualified majority (as explained in the answer), it is fully possible that neither position wins. That was what happened in the previous rounds. Had this situation continued, the European Commission would have had to decide in the end. – chirlu Nov 28 '17 at 14:36

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