Progress in applications for plant protection products and biocidal products

We have seen demand in Europe increase and the Ctgb has responded to this in recent years, but most other Member States have been able to increase their capacity only slightly, if at all. Brexit has further exacerbated the shortage of European assessment capacity. For years, the Ctgb has accepted more than its fair share of applications for products and substances for biocidal products and plant protection products, which could also have been assessed by other Member States. Increasing the assessment capacity and enhancing the development of expertise and experience in the Member States is crucial for a high-quality peer review process in Europe. This forms the basis for European decision-making. In addition, increasing the capacity of the competent authorities is important in order to be able to shorten turnaround times. That is why we aim for a more equitable distribution of European applications between the Member States. The Ctgb is therefore prioritising this issue in various European consultations.

To meet the demand for assessment capacity, as indicated above, the Ctgb has invested heavily in its expansion in recent years. We apply the principle of 'controlled growth': vacancies can be filled depending on the capacity of a team (size of the group, balance between experienced employees and starters).  If necessary, capacity was increased in some teams in a way that even exceeded controlled growth parameters. We can operate like this because the Ctgb is rate-financed. Therefore we do what we can and we do what is possible.

Despite this investment, the required capacity in 2021 will be insufficient to work on all pending applications and to deal with new applications immediately. This is because the dossiers have become larger and more complex, as was also noted by the applicants. In the case of biocidal products, the dossiers for large biocidal product families in particular are complex and extensive. The quality of files is often poor and in some cases a harmonised assessment framework is not yet available. To achieve safe use, applications for plant protection products require increasingly higher tier refinements. In addition, the European procedures are becoming increasingly intensive and challenging. A notable example of this is the assessment of endocrine-disrupting properties. Furthermore, an increase in the number of pending substance applications requires a relatively large amount of assessment capacity. We also have to contend with a difficult-to-manage imbalance in available capacity between the various expertises. This means that, in addition to a temporary restriction on the influx of some types of applications, choices must also be made about how the available capacity can best be deployed. The aim is to maximise progress, improve the predictability of the applications and maintain the high quality standards of our work. 

The available capacity is divided among the various types of applications. For each application type, we determine which applications can be worked on in 2021. In any case, intakes are carried out because they provide insight into the required capacity for following up on the application and it gives applicants clarity as to whether their application is valid. To work as efficiently as possible within an application type, the focus in the near future will be on prioritising applications that are in the final phase before other pending or new applications are dealt with.

This means that in 2021 it will be almost impossible to work on some applications and that we cannot yet provide complete clarity about the exact turnaround times for all applications submitted. If you have any questions about your pending application, please contact the project manager.