EU Commission breached law by failing to fulfil its legal obligations regarding EDCs

Rare moment: EU Commission abuse of power given by EP and council has been declared by EU highest court!

image of the statue-justice
By failing to adopt measures concerning the specification of scientific criteria for the determination of endocrine-disrupting properties, the Commission has breached EU law.

A rare and crucial court judgement against the EU Commission was released yesterday.
The EU Court of Justice found in favour of Sweden’s case against the Commission for failing to fulfil its legal obligations regarding EDCs.

Sweden took the EU Commission to court after it missed its legal deadline to put forward scientific criteria to identify hormone disrupting chemicals, also known as endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) by the end of 2013. Several Member States, including Denmark, France, and the Netherlands joined the case, along with the entire EU Council of governments, and the EU Parliament.

The court found that the EU Commission had a clear obligation to adopt measures on the identification criteria by 13 December 2013 and no factors such as effects to the internal market, or putative scientific disputes changed that obligation. The court also found that no part of the regulation requires an impact analysis.

There was intense industry lobbying on EDCs which aimed to get an ‘impact assessment’, and the need to conduct this impact assessment is the reason the Commission gave for ignoring the law.

This is a rare moment: the Commission’s abuse of the power given it by Parliament and Council has been declared by Europe’s highest Court.
Will the Commission now curtail the Impact Assessment or will they continue regardless, with further delay at the expense of public health?

said Lisette van Vliet, Senior Policy Adviser, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL).

EDCs interfere with the body’s highly sensitive hormone system. Studies point to EDCs causing obesity, diabetes and cancer. Even tiny amounts of EDCs pose particular risks to unborn children and infants. Policies are urgently needed to reduce human exposure. Costs attributable to exposure to a selected sample of endocrine-disrupting chemicals (with only the highest probability of causation) were recently estimated at €157 billion per year in the EU.

The EU Commission is currently conducting an impact assessment to analyse different options for defining the criteria for the identification of EDCs. The Commission intends the final criteria to serve for the biocides law, and the pesticides law (which has a similar requirement) as well as other laws that do not directly require identification criteria, such as the chemicals law REACH, and the cosmetics law. The impact assessment is expected to delay the setting EU criteria for defining EDCs until 2017 at the earliest.

HEAL has long maintained that is it not legitimate to conduct an assessment of social, economic and environmental impacts in order to determine scientific identification criteria. HEAL also insists that the delay on criteria is causing unnecessary further exposure of the public to EDCs, which is harmful for health.

Originally posted on 16 December 2015

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