DG Environment explains delegated acts on biocides

Commission official discussed delegated acts of Biocidal Products Regulation with ENVI MEPs

By Dods EU Political Intelligence

Leading provider of EU parliamentary and political intelligence, delivered by an expert team of specialist researchers

14 Oct 2014

Please note that this does not constitute a formal record of the proceedings of the meeting. It is dependent on interpretation and acts as an unofficial summary of the debate.

On October 13 2014, the European Parliament Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) held an exchange of views with the European Commission on the delegated acts of Regulation 528/2012 on biocidal products.

Vice-Chair Pavel Poc (ECR, CZ) briefly gave a background to this agenda item. He referred to article 5 of Regulation No 528/2012 on Exclusion criteria which obliges the Commission to adopt delegated acts “in accordance with Article 83 specifying scientific criteria for the determination of endocrine-disrupting properties” and explained that, as this provision was a matter of much discussion, coordinators decided to invite a representative from the Commission to answer any questions regarding delegated acts.

Bjorn Hansen, Head of Unit A.3 (Chemicals, Biocides and Nanomaterials), DG Environment, explained the decision of the Commission to carry out an impact assessment on the development of scientific criteria instead of adhering to the set deadline. The Commission was on target in developing scientific hazard-based criteria, with the view of assessing their implementation within individual pieces of legislation. In 2013, however, the Commission received communications from industry stating that the potential impact of such an approach would be significant in economic terms and in relation to trade. In the months that followed, a significant scientific debate took off. This is illustrated by an editorial published in scientific journals, stating that the Commission’s action was not science-based.

Two messages – from economic and industrial actors – called for a general reassessment of the approach taken by the Commission to make a specific assessment on each regulation and their implementation. Due to the significant scientific debate and the message from industry, as well as a push from the European Parliament in this direction, the Commission finally decided to work on developing harmonised scientific criteria for the determination of endocrine-disrupting properties. A result, the Commission published a roadmap which sets out a strategy and the options which are now to be assessed, he said, and hoped that this explains the deviation from the outset deadline.

Bart Staes (Greens/EFA, BE) pointed to the effects of endocrine disruptors in terms of chronic disease, cancer, diabetes and reproductive problems. This is why the EU is developing a strategy since 1999, he said; however, no concrete action has been taken. The European Parliament had very clearly criticised the “cut-off” criteria (article 5), which the industry also finds terrible. Therefore, the European Parliament had agreed with the Council and the Commission to allow for the Commission to develop criteria over a few months, but instead it had taken years. This request does not come out of nowhere, he said; it has been made in cooperation with the Council and the Commission.

The Commission’s reply seems to indicate that they have only begun to develop criteria. He pointed to the intra-service consultation in 2013 which proposed certain criteria responding to what the European Parliament had been asking for 4 years. He claimed that action within the set deadline would have been possible if it was not for the interference of industry. Was it proven that the objections raised by the scientists were groundless, he asked, and argued that both the 7th Environmental Action Programme and the roadmap are clearly referring to a horizontal position, in which also costs are examined. The Green MEP continued saying that this year the Commission assessment is not coherent because the approach was is not horizontal, contrary to the 7th EAP and the roadmap. In conclusion, he asked:

  • How is a horizontal approach to be ensured?
  • When is the Commission to present this delegated act? We are running out of time, he said.

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