With European elections coming up in May 2019, you probably want to know how the European Union impacts your daily life, before you think about voting. In the latest in a series of posts on what Europe does for you, your family, your business and your wellbeing, we look at what Europe does for beekeepers.
If you are one of the EU’s 600 000 professional or amateur beekeepers, offering consumers the much loved product that is honey, you are also undoubtedly well aware of the vital contribution that your activity makes to environmental conservation and food production. Indeed, your bees help to produce more than 200 000 tonnes of honey a year and, in doing so, ensure natural pollination for over 80 % of Europe’s cultivated crops and wild plants. Nevertheless, you may find it hard to keep your activity economically profitable in the face of threats to bee health and strong competition on the honey market. EU policies can play an important role in helping you cope with these challenges.
For example, EU funds can cover up to half the cost of measures to address major issues such as bee health, hive management and product quality. Also, beekeeping products can benefit from promotional campaigns co-financed by the EU and from EU quality labels that can increase their economic potential on the market. More than 30 types of honey have already received an EU label of protected designation of origin (PDO) or protected geographical indication (PGI).
Furthermore, the EU policy-makers’ dialogue with stakeholders helps to define policies to support beekeeping indirectly, for example by promoting agricultural and environmental policies that prevent the deterioration of bees’ habitats, by fighting cases of food fraud, such as honey adulteration, and by funding research projects to study bee health problems and the high mortality rate registered in recent decades.
- EPRS publication ‘The EU’s beekeeping sector’, www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/etudes/ATAG/2017/608786/EPRS_ATA(2017)608786_EN.pdf
- EPRS publication ‘Les abeilles dans l’UE: un bilan de santé inquiétant’, www.europarl.europa.eu/RegData/bibliotheque/briefing/2014/140792/LDM_BRI(2014)140792_REV1_FR.pdf
- European Commission’s website on honey bees, www.ec.europa.eu/food/animals/live_animals/bees_en