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Delay in key EU policies on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals

HEAL and other public interest groups disappointed by delay of European criteria to identify which chemicals are endocrine disrupters. The approval of these criteria is now anticipated no sooner than October 2014.

Contrary to what was anticipated in early June, two key European policy documents are now being delayed until the end of the year, and a third until late next year at least.

Prior to the summer break, it was widely anticipated that the European Commission, primarily through its Directorate General of Environment, would be releasing some key EU policy documents on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) in the autumn (September - October). The documents include 1a) a review (retrospective analysis) of the current EDC Strategy and 1b) a revised (new) EDC Strategy; 2) a review of and possible proposal for the treatment of EDCs in the REACH Chemicals system and 3) a set of European Criteria to identify which chemicals are EDCs and to assess the risks they pose. The release of all of these documents had already been delayed for some months prior to the summer.

These delays are a great disappointment for HEAL and other public interest groups across Europe who have been advocating for years on the need to urgently reduce public exposures to EDCs, which are associated with a range of chronic diseases such as cancer, reproductive problems, diabetes, and neurological problems such as learning disabilities. HEAL and other organisations have provided stakeholder expertise and joint positions in this process, and are working together in the EDC Free campaign to raise public awareness and urge quicker EU and national governmental action on reducing exposure to EDCs.

EDC criteria: pesticides and biocides phase-out driving the debate

There has been intense attention around how future criteria would affect currently authorised pesticides and biocides. This is because the 2009 pesticides and 2011 biocides laws mandate a phase-out on those pesticides and biocides with endocrine disrupting properties that may have harmful effects on human health and the environment. These laws require the Commission to propose Criteria for EDCs by December 2013, and they designated interim criteria which apply in the meantime.

New process and timetable

In July, the review of REACH was postponed due to the delay in the Criteria Policy Recommendation document.

The delay in the Criteria also has affected the Strategy documents, which would normally refer to them. The EU Commissioner for Environment Janez Potočnik has however stated the Strategy should emerge by the end of the year (extracts from Commissioner’s closing speech at HEAL’s General Assembly, 26 September)

In September, the Commission announced that the Criteria would not be decided until an Impact Assessment has been undertaken.

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Originally posted on 8 October 2013

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