The pesticides - clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam - were identified as harmful to Europe's honeybee population. The restriction will come into force on 1 December and will be reviewed within two years.
EC commissioner for health and consumer policy Tonio Borg said: "Last month, I pledged that, based on the number of risks identified by the European Food Safety Authority's scientific opinion, I would do my utmost to ensure our honeybee population is protected.
"Today's adoption delivers on that pledge and marks another milestone towards ensuring a healthier future for our honeybees, as bees have two important roles to play - not only producing honey but primarily to be a pollinator. About 80 per cent of all pollination is due to the activity of bees. This is natural and free of costs."
Member states must withdraw or amend existing authorisations to comply with the EU restrictions by 30 September. They can allow the use of existing stocks until 30 November at the latest. National authorities are responsible for ensuring that the restrictions are correctly applied.
The EC's bee strategy includes the designation of an EU reference laboratory for bee health, increased EU co-financing for national apiculture projects, co-financing to carry out surveillance studies in 17 voluntary member states (EUR3.3m were allocated in 2012) and EU research programmes such as BeeDoc and STEP that look into the multifactorial aspects that could be attributed to Europe's bee decline.
For further details, see http://ec.europa.eu/food/animal/ liveanimals/bees/neonicotinoids_en.htm.