In an article published on October 12, 2017 by regulatory news provider Chemical Watch, editor Vanessa Zainzinger discussed the different options available to the European Commission (EC) following the rejection of its draft proposal for identification of endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) in the area of pesticides by the European Parliament’s (EP) vote on October 4, 2017 (FPF reported). The “unlawful” exemption for substances with intended endocrine mode of action was cited as the main reason for EP vetoing the EC’s proposal.

The Centre for International Environmental Law (CIEL) suggested that the quickest way for delivering a new proposal text would be to “simply remove the paragraph introducing the exemption.” The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) also welcomed this approach and urged the EC “to swiftly make a new proposal that is in line with what the Parliament has called for.” Darren Abrahams, partner at the law firm Steptoe & Johnson, agreed that this “seems the most likely route,” but added, however, that “the resulting criteria would provide even less of what many industry stakeholders have considered to be essential.”

According to Abrahams, two more options are available to the EC. The first would be to “withdraw the old proposal completely” and submit a new one through a “lengthy procedure,”, though it is “unlikely that this would make it easier to reach consensus on the proposal.”

Another option would be “to take no further action on proposing EDC criteria for pesticides.” Such a possibility exists because adoption of EDC criteria by comitology was required only for pesticides, but not for biocides, therefore the EC could now “separate the two proposals and stop work on [EDC criteria for pesticides],” while carrying forward with a similar proposal for EDC criteria for biocides, Abrahams explained. This scenario he also considered unlikely, commenting that EC’s “failure … to take action could lead to litigation by the Parliament before the General Court of the EU.” Furthermore, in the event of the two proposals being separated, “some of the issues relating to the biocides proposal might get more focused attention from decision makers.”

Abrahams further said that “the mindset and general approach of the draft criteria is probably here to stay” for both biocides and pesticides, but also “other chemicals to which these criteria will not formally apply, but I expect will be relied upon in practice.”

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Vanessa Zainzinger (October 12, 2017). “Legal experts expect quick action from Commission on EDC criteria.Chemical Watch