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Brussels, 14 February 2017
To: Mr Frans Timmermans, European Commission First Vice-President
Cc: Mr Vytenis Andriukaitis, European Commissioner for Health and Food Safety
Subject: Call to implement Better Regulation principles in EU action on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals
We are contacting you about Better Regulation issues in the EU’s policy on Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals. First, we would like to express our appreciation to the European Commission for its stated commitment to “listen to the European Parliament, listen to all Member States, and listen to the people” (1). The harm caused by endocrine disrupting chemicals (“EDCs”) on EU citizens’ health and their environment is one of these “big problems” that the European Commission has been mandated to tackle as early as 1998 (2). However, although laws and policies adopted since then show the EU institutions have been trying to address EDCs, citizens continue to be concerned and scientists continue to sound the alarm (3) (4) (5) (6).
The Commission’s proposals for criteria to identify EDCs, as required by the Pesticides and Biocides Regulations, are a necessary first step towards better protecting citizens and the environment from these harmful substances. However, because the proposals are currently at odds with the founding principles of Better Regulation, which aims at ensuring that the EU delivers high quality legislation, we bring the following concerns to your attention:
(1) NOT EFFICIENT NOR COHERENT: The Commission is not adhering to existing EU political commitments for horizontal identification criteria enshrined in the Seventh Environment Action Programme (7), commitments which were recently reaffirmed by Council conclusions (8). Currently the proposed identification criteria are only designed to work specifically for and in the Pesticides and Biocides Regulations (see Annex).
(2) NOT EFFECTIVE: The Commission proposal on derogation conditions changes the overall Risk Management balance between protection and competitiveness enshrined in the Pesticides Regulation for EDCs and thereby exceeds the Commission’s legal mandate: the Commission was required to adopt scientific criteria to identify EDCs, not to soften the conditions for approval of EDCs in pesticides (see Annex).
(3) NOT BASED ON EVIDENCE: The Commission is using a misinterpretation of science to justify changing the overall Risk Management balance. The Commission’s justification to make a change to the derogation conditions for pesticides’ authorisation is actually based on a flawed selective reading of the EFSA Scientific Opinion (see Annex).
(4) NOT COHERENT: The Commission’s criteria proposal is inconsistent with international practices in chemicals classification which jeopardises the adoption of harmonised criteria worldwide and thus creates further uncertainty for businesses and policy makers (see Annex).
(5) NOT TRANSPARENT: There is insufficient transparency and openness in the recent amendments made to the initial proposed criteria text. Substantial changes in the identification criteria have been made that lack any publically available scientific reasoning or justification and make it a daunting task for stakeholders to follow the process and the impacts of such major changes (see Annex).
As they stand now, the proposed criteria to identify EDCs are a perfect counter-example of Better Regulation. That is why, we call on you, as First Vice-President of the European Commission, in charge of coordinating the work on Better Regulation and the rule of law, and ensuring horizontal responsibility for sustainable development, to act to “break down silos” and adhere to existing EU political commitments (9). Your action within the Commission to ensure better EDC criteria can send a strong signal to European citizens about what Better Regulation can and ought to be on the big things that concern them, protecting people’s health and the environment from harmful chemicals.
Genon K. Jensen, Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) Executive Director on behalf of the EDC-Free Europe NGO coalition
Jorgo Riss, Greenpeace European Unit Director on behalf of the Green 10 as current Chair
EDC-Free Europe is a coalition of more than 70 environmental, health, women’s and consumer groups across Europe who share a concern about endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) and their impact on our health and wildlife.
The Green 10 are ten of the largest environmental organisations and networks active on the European level. They coordinate joint responses and recommendations to EU decision makers. Membership of the Green 10 alone is more than 20 million people.
The complete letter, including the annex and footnotes, can be read online here.