Article ChemWatch: EU countries to closely monitor DG Sanco on EDCs criteria work

29.09.14 |

Member States expecting progress with new Commission

Chemical Watch 25 September 2014 / Europe

Written by Leigh Stringer

Member States Competent Authorities (CAs) will be monitoring how the European Commission’s directorate general for health (DG Sanco) develops the criteria for defining endocrine disruptors (CW 18 September 2014). DG Sanco is to lead the development of EDCs criteria following changes planned for the new Commission that is scheduled to start its mandate on 1 November (CW 10 September 2014).

Responding to the changes, CAs in France, Denmark and the Netherlands say they will be taking a particular interest in DG Sanco’s work on the criteria to ensure progress is made. All three have been calling for stronger action on the issue, for the last few years.
Vincent Designolle, head of the chemical substances and preparations unit at France’s Ministry of Ecology, the CA for REACH, says the ministry would like the Commission to move forward in full consistency with France’s own strategy and proposals for an EU-level strategy on EDCs (CW 1 May 2014).

The Netherlands and several other EU countries are preparing to present their interests, regarding chemical regulation, to the Commission, says Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment’s (I&M) Jan Wijmenga. It is still in a preliminary stage, he says, but a first meeting has been held. He also says that the discussion centred on subjects that may be included in a letter to the EU’s environment ministers or to the commissioners-designate. “There have been meetings discussing the areas that should be regulated under REACH, like EDCs and nanomaterials. So these countries will be asking the new Commission many questions,” he says.

He adds that the Netherlands has been very clear in its aspirations for the old and new Commission. In 2012, they, along with nine other EU countries, sent a letter to the Commission on the lack of progress made on nanomaterials within REACH (CW 11 July 2012). “In the current framework, REACH is not very capable of handling nanomaterials or EDCs,” he says.

However, Mr Wijmenga says it makes little difference which DG deals with EDCs criteria because “whoever has control, we are all expecting to see action from the Commission.” “This expectation doesn’t change with the movement of responsibilities,” he adds.

Work has been ongoing in Denmark, which continues to call for progress on EDCs at national and EU level (CW 2 July 2014). The country’s environment minister, Kirsten Brosbøl, said in July that she will take the case of EDCs up with the new Commission, when it is in place. Henrik Søren Larsen, head of the Danish Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) chemicals division, says the agency has “a special interest in the development of criteria for EDCs and will be following intensely” how DG Sanco conducts its work on the subject.

CAs in Germany and Hungary declined to comment, while Sweden’s Competent Authorities say they could not provide a response, due to the ongoing government transition.
Environment commissioner Janez Potocnik says a revised strategy on EDCs is ready but disagreements inside the Commission are preventing the directorate general (DG) for Environment from proposing it officially (CW 25 September 2014).

Meanwhile, member states are not fully clear on whether the changes will impact REACH, despite speculation that Sanco will be joining the directorate generals (DG) for environment and enterprise in overseeing the Regulation. Jukka Malm, director of regulatory affairs at Echa, says the agency’s role is to implement legislation. “If there are changes to the legislation, we have to adapt to those changes,” he says.

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