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16 December 2015

Endocrine disruptors: Commission in breach of EU law

In a judgement of 16 December the European Court of Justice (ECJ) ruled that the European Commission had infringed the European Regulation on the placing on the market and use of biocidal products.

This Regulation defines the active substances which, in principle, cannot be approved as biocides. Endocrine disruptors are among the prohibited active substances and, according to Article 5 of this Regulation, the Commission was required to adopt, before 13 December 2013, the scientific criteria for determining properties that disrupt the endocrine system.

Since these criteria had not been adopted by the deadline, Sweden appealed to the ECJ to confirm that the Commission had infringed the relevant EU legislation. Other Member States – France, Denmark, Finland and the Netherlands – were also party to Sweden’s complaint, alongside the European Council and the Strasbourg Parliament.

The resulting judgement should spur the European Commission to adopt as soon as possible the measures that it is legally required to take.

The European Trade Union Confederation (ETUC) welcomed the ECJ ruling. "It considers that the delay game must stop. The European Commission has to respect EU law and adopt criteria for testing based on the intrinsic hazard of endocrine disruptors chemicals. EDCs should be regulated as chemicals of very high concern, to protect consumers and workers", commented ETUC Confederal Secretary Esther Lynch, in charge of occupational safety and health.

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