MEPs call on EU Commission to step up action against dangerous chemicals


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This article is brought to you in association with the European Commission.

The upcoming new EU chemicals strategy for sustainability must better protect our health and the environment, says Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee.

On Monday, the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee adopted a resolution by 65 votes to 1 and 14 abstentions, calling on the Commission to come up with a new chemicals strategy for sustainability that effectively ensures a high level of protection of health and the environment, minimising exposure to hazardous chemicals. It also says that further regulatory measures are needed to adequately protect vulnerable groups such as children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly.

The new chemicals strategy must fully reflect the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle, as well as being more transparent during the approval process. It should also encourage safe and sustainable alternatives to be developed in a competitive way, including through a clear commitment to securing funds for research.

MEPs believe there is a need to support the ‘one substance – one hazard assessment’ principle, to allow substances to be reviewed by only one EU agency to speed up and make chemicals regulation more consistent.

More to be done on endocrine disruptors and pesticides

The resolution calls for a comprehensive EU framework on endocrine disruptors (EDCs) to effectively minimise the extent to which humans and the environment are exposed to EDCs, and insert specific provisions into legislation on toys, food contact materials and cosmetics to treat EDCs like substances that are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic for reproduction.

It also calls on the Commission to heed the various calls of the European Parliament to improve the EU’s authorisation procedure for pesticides and accelerate the transition towards low-risk pesticides.

Encourage green innovation and end toxic recycling

MEPs call on the Commission to develop EU criteria for Sustainable Chemicals to provide incentives for sustainable chemistry, materials and technologies, especially non-chemical alternatives that are safe.

MEPs also underline that there are harmful chemicals in recycled products and therefore call for the same rules that apply to new products to apply to recycled materials.

The EU must also minimise and progressively replace animal testing through expanded use of new approach methodologies and intelligent testing strategies.

Next steps

The resolution, which still has to be adopted by Plenary, is Parliament’s input to the upcoming EU chemicals strategy for sustainability foreseen to be presented by the Commission this autumn. A draft roadmap was open for feedback until 20 June. It is part of the European Green Deal.

An oral question to the Commission has also been adopted, asking what measures the Commission is intending to take under the chemicals strategy for sustainability and in particular, how the Commission intends to improve the functioning of REACH to close the regulatory gaps in EU legislation.

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