Parliament calls 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 Parliament.


The upcoming new EU chemicals strategy for sustainability must better protect our health and the environment, says Parliament in a resolution adopted on Friday.

Following Wednesday’s debate, where MEPs requested the Commission to close loopholes in EU chemicals legislation to help REACH to function more efficiently, Parliament adopted a resolution by 579 votes to 18 and 84 abstentions. It calls on the Commission to come up with a new chemicals strategy that effectively ensures that health and the environment are well protected, by minimising exposure to hazardous chemicals. Further regulatory measures are needed to protect vulnerable groups in particular such as children, pregnant and breastfeeding women and the elderly.

According to MEPs, the new chemicals strategy must fully reflect the precautionary principle and the polluter-pays principle, and ensure more transparent approval processes. It should also stimulate competition for developing safe and sustainable alternatives, e.g. by committing to securing funds for research.

MEPs believe in the ‘one substance – one hazard assessment’ principle: substances should be reviewed by only one EU agency to speed up the process and make chemicals regulation more consistent.

Reduce exposure to 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. Specific provisions on toys, food contact materials and cosmetics should be inserted into legislation to treat EDCs in the same way as 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. Harmful chemicals also end up in recycled products and should therefore be covered by the same rules as new products.

The EU must also minimise and progressively replace animal testing by using more new approach methodologies and intelligent testing strategies.

Next steps

The resolution is Parliament’s input to a new EU chemicals strategy for sustainability 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.

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