NGOs fear delay is weakening chemicals legislation — urgent letter sent to Prodi
The environmental NGOs EEB, WWF, Friends of the Earth, and Greenpeace have joined with the consumer NGO BEUC in sending an urgent letter to Romano Prodi, Commission President. The letter calls on Prodi to ensure that the Commission delivers new chemicals legislation without further delay and that public concerns about the environment and health effects of chemicals are properly incorporated.
These legislative proposals, currently being drafted by the Commission and due to be published in the next few months, will completely overhaul the regulation of chemicals in Europe, based on proposals published in a White Paper in February 2001.
The NGOs are aware that there is substantial industry lobbying on this issue, and are concerned that the Commission may publish legislation that does not properly protect public health and the environment, for example by excluding certain groups of chemicals and uses from the new management system. They are also concerned at potential delays in the legislation’s publication, due to continuing lobbying from pro-chemical industry elements within the Commission for further consultation and extension of an already-flawed business impact assessment.
After 4 years of extensive consultation and assessments, NGOs reject calls for further delay. They are concerned that these delays will jeopardise the request from Heads of State and Governments to have a new chemicals system in place by 2004, and will lead to a continuation of the build up of chemicals in humans and environment.
Charlotte de Roo of BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation, said:
"An average hair spray contains around 15 chemical substances, out of which 11 have a harmful effect on health and/or the environment. It is therefore high time for a consistent EU policy ensuring that consumers need no longer worry about the safety of their daily "cocktail" of chemicals which ranges from mascara to toys."
Michael Warhurst of WWF said:
“The Commission has a chance to create a science-based process that will phase out chemicals that accumulate in, or disrupt the hormones of, our bodies and those of wildlife — they must take this chance, for the future protection of our children and our environment.”
Stefan Scheuer of EEB said:
“The new system must be a true reform that shows the direction for chemical and product innovation over the coming decades. This will only happen if the system is the basis for the management of all chemicals in all uses, without exceptions.”
Mary Taylor of Friends of the Earth said:
"The chemical industry in both Europe and the USA are fighting against controls on health-threatening risky chemicals. The Commission must ignore US bullying and make it clear to the EU chemical industry that new legislation will enable them to lead the world in the development of safer, more environmentally friendly products - something that the so-called business impact studies constantly ignore."
Jorgo Iwasaki-Riss of Greenpeace said:
“Hazardous chemicals are out of control – they are in our food, in our clothes, in everyday household products. Hazardous chemicals used in consumer products have become a major source of environmental pollution. It is time to end the use of such hazardous substances – and to look to a future where we don’t contaminate ourselves and our environment.”
For further information:
European Environmental Bureau
Tel: +32 2 2891304
Charlotte de Roo
BEUC, the European Consumer Organisation
Dr A. Michael Warhurst
WWF European Policy Office
Tel: +32 2 740 0926
Friends of the Earth,
Tel: + 44 20 7566 1649
Greenpeace International, European Unit
Tel: 32 2 274 1907