The European Food Safety Authority issued a report this month on the use of neonicotinoids, saying there were "high acute risks" to bees that encountered residue from these sprays in pollen and nectar in crops.
Sprays containing neonicotinoid chemicals should only be used on crops that don't attract the honey-producing insects, the European Commission now says.
The proposed restrictions are based on the latest scientific advice, commission officials said.
"We have requested a proper scientific assessment of neonicotinoids from EFSA," commission spokesman Frederic Vincent told the BBC. "They came up with some concerns, some kind of worrying assessment.
"So now we are saying to members we have some scientific evidence that there are some concerns from those pesticides and the effects they might have on bees."
Environmentalists applauded the commission's proposal.
"The evidence linking neonicotinoid chemicals to declining bee populations is growing," Andrew Pendleton of Friends of the Earth said.
"This hugely significant EU proposal promises a first, important step on the road to turning around the decline on our bees."