Almost ten years since the European Union first restricted neonicotinoid pesticides, Romania is still using the banned seed treatment, in a routine violation of EU law.

Since the 2018 ban on neonics, the Romanian agriculture ministry been using a legal exemption which allows banned chemicals to be deployed as a 'last resort' measure to save an endangered harvest, arguing that the chemicals are the only option to protect crops from devastating bug infestations.

But critics say the government is ignoring existing alternatives and granting all derogation requests submitted by powerful farm and agrichemical groups.

Read more: 'Emergency' neonicotinoid use slammed by Soil Association

US-based media company, Politico, has claimed that virtually every EU country makes routine use of these emergency authorisations to use the forbidden pesticides that keep their production ticking over. France and Belgium’s continued neonic exemptions contribute to the EU’s stance as the world’s leading sugar beet producer; Spain, the EU’s fruit-growing champion, deploys them to allow farmers of crops like melons or strawberries to use 1,3-Dichloropropene, a fungicide which has never got EU approval; and countries like Denmark issue them to manufacture neonics for both EU and non-EU export.

Romania’s farm ministry said the annual derogations were needed 'because there are no alternatives'. It added that neonic use in oilseed rape stopped in 2019, after an EFSA report found alternatives existed. Slovak MEP Martin Hojsik, who is working on pollinator policy, said there were 'super loopholes' that showed 'there is something really deeply rotten in the system'.