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Press release: The European Parliament votes for the lead ammunition ban

Brussels – November 25, 2020

The European Parliament decided this morning to ban the use of lead ammunition in wetlands across the EU. 362 MPs voted for the ban, 292 against and 39 abstained.

Although the REACH committee had already voted for the ban on lead in October because of its highly toxic properties, members of parliament remained divided over the motion of the far-right groups European Conservatives and Reformists (ECR) and Identity and Democracy (ID). ID has already filed one more objection, which means that the final and final vote on this issue will take place sometime today, Wednesday.

Lead has been used in ammunition and fishing tackle for decades, although it has known its terrible effects on humans, animals and nature. The lead shot, preferred by many as ammunition, consists of many tiny bullets that are sprayed from the rifle instead of just firing one bullet. Because of this, only a small fraction of the lead fired hits its target. The rest is scattered in nature. It is estimated that these uses emit around 21 to 27 000 tonnes of lead into the EU environment each year.

These spheres are often ingested by water birds such as swans, flamingos, ducks, and geese who tragically confuse them for the pebbles they use for digestion and the seeds they eat. The European Chemicals Agency estimates that more than a million waterfowl die each year.

Ariel Brunner, Senior Head of Policy at BirdLife Europe:
It is a relief and encouraging to see MPs refusing to fall into the trap of disinformation and scare tactics that has been spat around on the matter. Everyone knows that lead is poisonous. We urge MPs to keep listening to the science and to reject the ID group’s almost identical opposition today. With final approval from Member States, the EU can finally remove lead from our wetlands and save millions of wild birds from slow, painful death. And hopefully this will be the stepping stone that the EU needs to ultimately ban lead ammunition everywhere.


For further information please contact:

Honey Kohan, Media Officer, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia
+32 2541 0781
[email protected]

Notes for editors:

BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is a partnership of 48 national conservation organizations and a leader in bird conservation. Our unique local to global approach enables us to achieve high impact and long-term protection for the benefit of nature and people. BirdLife Europe and Central Asia is one of the six regional secretariats that make up BirdLife International. The Brussels-based company supports the European and Central Asian partnership and is represented in 47 countries, including all EU member states. With more than 4,100 employees in Europe, two million members and tens of thousands of qualified volunteers, BirdLife Europe and Central Asia, together with its national partners, owns or manages more than 6000 natural areas with a total area of ​​320,000 hectares.

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