Civil society organisations welcome the publication of the new investigation report on PVC (polyvinyl chloride) and its additives by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The findings clearly indicate harm to health and environment from some substances added to PVC and the release of its microparticles.
Ahead of a debate in the European Parliament’s Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, HEAL urges Members of the EP to prioritise health in the next EU budget cycle.
The European Commission proposal for the next LIFE programme (2021-2027) is currently under discussion with EU Member States and the European Parliament as part of negotiations on the next Multiannual Financial Framework (MFF). The LIFE programme has a history of success in ensuring the protection of our environment and our health, and has enabled many individuals and organisations to become engaged at the local, national and European level. It has provided for a clear added value for citizens of the EU.
The current LIFE programme which runs until 2020 has been instrumental in particular for advancing policy and civil society action on disease prevention through a clear focus on health and awarding resources for clean air, chemical safety, noise protection and climate activities.
Although HEAL welcomes a proposed increase of the overall LIFE next budget from currently €3.4 to €5.4 billion for the next funding period, we are concerned that the way the European Commission proposes to spend this budget threatens future resources for environmental health measures.
The current LIFE spending orientations are based on the objectives outlined in the 7th Environment Action Programme (EAP) – where health and environment is a top priority, and also prominently addresses the threat from chemicals to health. This focus is missing in the current Commission’s proposal.
HEAL urges MEPs and Member States to amend it with regards to the following:
- the current LIFE 2021-2027 proposal only marginally mentions health, despite the continuous challenges in Europe regarding air quality, reduction of the chemical burden of disease, limiting noise pollution etc.;
- the 7th EAP will lapse end 2020 and it is not yet clear that the European Commission will propose an 8th HEAL and other civil society members support the European Parliament in their call for an 8th EAP, as a demonstration of the European Union’s will to be serious and efficient in tackling climate change and impacts on health of environmental degradation;
- the current LIFE 2021-2027 proposal does not include any Environment Action Programme at all as a blueprint for allocating taxpayers’ money for climate and environment protection,
- the current LIFE 2021-2027 proposal does not mention chemicals at all, despite risks of hazardous chemicals for health and the environment; those risks were particularly emphasised by the World Health Organization (WHO), in a recent report on the transition to a circular economy and health.
HEAL calls on the European Parliament and Council to safeguard sufficient means for health and environmental action by putting health, chemicals and the next environmental action programme back into the next LIFE regulation.