EU Member States finally agree on criteria to identify Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs): but this is hardly a success....
Brussels, July 4th, 2017
On Tuesday 4th of July, Member States voted in favour of the Commission’s proposal on EDC criteria, which will be used to identify pesticides that are endocrine disruptors in the future. In the meantime, the Commission has asked the scientific consultation group of EFSA and ECHA to prepare a guidance document that explains in detail how these criteria will be applied. The negligible risk derogation has not been presented yet, although the Commission had reassured the Member States that this will be discussed again in the future.
While we acknowledge the importance of finally having a set of criteria to regulate exposure to EDCs, and we recognise that the current proposal is improved compared to the one presented in June 2016, the Commission and some Member States however have not selected the criteria 100% based on science, and they have left room for misinterpretation that will lead to endless debates (i.e. whether a chemical is an ED or not) before we have the chance to see any pesticide actually getting banned.
While the outcome of the vote is already being heralded by Health Commissioner Andriukaitis as a “major step toward protecting citizens’ health and the environment”, PAN-Europe and other civil society exponents are strongly opposed to such an optimistic interpretation. The proposed criteria evidently contain loopholes, which top Endocrinology experts have warned Commission representatives will result in “fail[ing] to protect citizens and the environment from the dangers posed by EDC exposure”; this is mainly because in the main criteria text, the burden of proof required to classify a substance as an EDC is so high that leaves room for misinterpretation and will inevitably result in getting only few, if any, dangerous substances banned.
PAN-Europe finds the vote's outcome especially deplorable as a conservative estimate found that the current burden on public health budgets from the diseases arising from exposure to EDCs in the European Union is estimated is at least 163 billion Euro per year, and also in light of the fact that over 458,000 European citizens recently signed a petition calling on Member States to reject the Commission’s proposal.
Another regrettable element is France’s last-minute change of position, which goes completely against electoral promises made by Emmanuel Macron in the run up to the vote. While Sweden and Denmark stood firm in their effort to secure better criteria by voting against the proposed ones, along with the Czech Republic, and while Latvia, Poland, Hungary and the UK abstained from voting, the rest of the EU Member States voted in favour of the Commission’s proposed criteria, reaching a qualified majority after years of delay.
Now it is up to the European Parliament to reject such unfit criteria, and this will be our work for the next few months.