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6 March 2014

Endocrine disruptors: Sweden to take Commission to court for “inaction”

Press reports indicate that the Swedish government is readying a complaint to the Court of Justice of the EU over the Commission’s decision to put the adoption of criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors (EDCs) on indefinite hold. EDCs are chemicals that disrupt the hormonal system, and are raising concerns of a possible link with a range of chronic diseases (some cancers, diabetes, obesity, etc.).

The European Commission was supposed to publish an EU strategy on endocrine disruptors and the scientific criteria for identifying them in December 2013. "Given the calls about the possible significant impacts associated with any particular choice of criteria (...) the Commission has decided to carry out an impact assessment", EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potocnik told the Swedish authorities in response to a letter sent last October by the Swedish and Danish governments voicing concern about the lack of movement on endocrine disruptors.

The Swedish government clearly felt short-changed by Mr Potocnik’s reply, since it has put the Commission on notice to come up criteria for identifying endocrine disruptors in short order.

"If it is not done within two months, it's so serious from an environment and health point of view that we will follow up by suing the Commission", said Sweden’s Environment Minister Lena Ek.

Sweden plans to take "failure to act" proceedings which can be brought against an EU institution, body, office or agency for breach of a duty to act.

There has been other political criticism of the delay. "So the anti-regulation industry lobbies have got what they wanted (...): putting off the deadline until after an election that they hope will increase the number of Eurosceptic MEPs who oppose binding Community regulations on principle", inveighed French ecologist MP Jean-Louis Roumegas in a report to France’s National Assembly on the EU strategy on endocrine disruptors. The report, adopted on 25 February, was written after taking evidence from a panel of experts, including the ETUI’s specialist chemical hazards researcher Tony Musu.

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