tractor spraying yellow field for story saying EU Environment Council reprimands Commission for chemical failings

EU Environment Council reprimands Commission for chemical failings

The Commission should work faster to implement laws protecting people and the environment from dangerous chemicals. This is the conclusion of a vote in the Environmental Council of the EU on Monday 19 December.

The Council highlighted its concern over the Commission’s failure to implement measures to improve the protection of human health and the environment. Although the Council welcomed the review – known as a REFIT – of chemicals regulation, it underlined the importance of continued work to ensure a high level of protection against toxic chemicals.

ClientEarth Brussels-based lawyer Vito Buonsante said: “The role of the Commission is to implement legislation, not to question its relevance through the ‘better regulation’ agenda. The Council is right to point out that the Commission lagging behind in its duty to protect human health and the environment is worrying.”

The reprimand comes ahead of a Commission vote, expected on the 21 December, on the identification of endocrine disrupting chemicals. During the meeting on Monday 19 December, Sweden’s Environment Council representative criticised the criteria for their possible high burden of proof, and the UK lamented the lack of adequate time to assess the revised Commission proposal.

The Council conclusions also highlight how the Commission has not delivered on the initiatives foreseen in the 7th Environmental Action Program (EAP). These aimed to:

  • Improve the safety of manufactured nanomaterials;
  • Minimise exposure to endocrine disruptors;
  • Develop regulation to address combination effects of chemicals; and
  • Minimise exposure to chemicals in products – including imported products – to promote non-toxic material cycles and reduce indoor exposure to harmful substances.

The Council asked the Commission to report by June 2017 on the implementation of these four measures, which were supposed to be in place by the end of 2015 under the 7th EAP.

The Council also called on the Commission, when further developing the criteria for endocrine disruptors, to take into account the 7th EAP, that calls for hazard-based criteria for all hormone-harming chemicals.

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Petr Kratochvil