European Court of Justice hears chemicals-case against Commission

BEUC NEWS - 18.11.2015

A crucial court hearing against the European Commission took place yesterday, November 17. The European Union Court of Justice in Luxembourg heard Sweden’s case against the Commission for failing to fulfil its legal obligations regarding hormone disrupting chemicals (EDCs).

EDCs are chemical substances that interfere with the body's highly sensitive hormone system. Research has linked EDCs to obesity, diabetes and cancer. Suspected endocrine disruptors are found in everyday items from food and cleaning products to plastic containers. Exposure to EDCs is estimated to cost the EU €157 billion per year in actual health care expenses and lost earning potential.

The Commission has failed to meet a 2013 deadline for adopting EDC criteria under the pesticides and biocide laws. In an unprecedented move, the European Parliament and Council, in January 2015, joined Sweden in a court case against the Commission for “failure to act”.

Two years after the deadline, the Commission (under the lead of DG Santé) has started to conduct an impact assessment comparing four different options for EDC criteria to identify which chemicals qualify as EDCs under EU law. The final criteria are expected in the second half of 2016 and will be followed by Commission proposals or acts for applying the criteria in the various EU laws.

BEUC welcomes Sweden’s decision. Our everyday exposure to hormone disrupting chemicals – in our homes, workplaces and communities – needs to be reduced in order to protect the health of current and future generations. Criteria which clearly identify all EDCs will enable the EU to effectively address the threats of long-term health and environmental damage posed by EDCs. Until such criteria are adopted, the EU should apply the precautionary principle and ban the use of EDCs in consumer goods, where safer alternatives are available.

Click here for more info about endocrine disrupting chemicals.