European Health Commissioner Vytenis Andriukaitis has pledged to present scientific criteria for the identification of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (EDCs) “before the summer”. Speaking in a European Parliament debate on the issue recently, he defended the time it is taking the Commission to finish its impact assessment into the various options. Last year the European Court of Justiceupheld a claim by Swedenthat it had breached the law by failing to publish the criteria by the December 2013 deadline set out in the biocidal products Regulation (BPR). In response the Commission said it would continue to conduct the impact assessment and aim to finish it by the end of 2016. The statement outraged NGOs and was criticised by the Swedish government. In the debate Mr Andriukaitis told MEPs the Commission will “move as fast as possible” to finalise the criteria, but an impact assessment is an “essential” tool to guide its decision. There are still “diverging views on some critical points on how EDCs should be identified,” he said. “The science is not unanimous; and the member states are divided between supporting a hazard-based approach, or a risk-based one.” He added that the criteria must be “manageable” from a regulatory viewpoint, as well as ensuring a high level of protection for human health.
Pressure from MEPs
But some MEPs said the delay was due to extensive industry lobbying. Green MEP Martin Häusling said the Commission had “bent to the wishes of the agricultural chemicals lobby”. He urged Mr Andriukaitis to take consumer protection seriously by accepting the draft criteria proposed back in 2013. And Jytte Guteland from Sweden’s Social Democrats said his country is proud to have forced the Commission to “respect its duties”. “[fusion_builder_container hundred_percent=”yes” overflow=”visible”][fusion_builder_row][fusion_builder_column type=”1_1″ background_position=”left top” background_color=”” border_size=”” border_color=”” border_style=”solid” spacing=”yes” background_image=”” background_repeat=”no-repeat” padding=”” margin_top=”0px” margin_bottom=”0px” class=”” id=”” animation_type=”” animation_speed=”0.3″ animation_direction=”left” hide_on_mobile=”no” center_content=”no” min_height=”none”][I] hope you are going to stop putting off [the] process and take full responsibility to protect the health of EU citizens, which is your duty according to the EU treaties,” he said. Other MEPs supported Mr Andriukaitis, saying an impact assessment is the best way to produce scientifically reliable criteria. “I appreciate that the Commission is ready to speed up the process. The goal in the end is to find criteria that can best identify substances which cause harm under realistic conditions, and to regulate their use appropriately,” said Cristian-Silviu Buşoi from the European People’s Party. Mr Buşoi, who the previous week hosted a discussion in the parliament on the issue, also said “there is no legal vacuum now; people are being protected by legislation that is in place: by the REACH Regulation”. His comments echo those on Cefic’s website that “despite claims to the contrary in some quarters, endocrine disruptors are already addressed by the current strict EU regulatory framework.” The NGO ChemSec says it is “problematic that the Commission keeps mixing science and policy by sticking to the need of a socio-economic impact assessment in order to establish scientific EDC criteria … The criteria should be set based on science only.” But speaking in the discussion hosted by Mr Buşoi the week before the debate, Laura Fabrizi of the Commission’s health directorate, DG Sante, stressed that the options presented by the Commission cover both science-based criteria and policy options. Mr Andriukaitis said the final proposals will be issued as two separate legal texts:
- an implementing Regulation containing the criteria which will be applied to substances falling under the plant protection products Regulation; and
- a delegated act containing criteria applicable under the BPR.
Chemical Watch, 4 February 2016 ;http://chemicalwatch.com ;[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]