Court Says EU Broke Own Rules on Endocrine Disruptors

17.12.2015 -

The EU’s general court in Luxembourg has ruled in favor of Sweden in a long-running dispute with the European Commission over the Scandinavian country’s plans to ban certain chemical compounds suspected of being endocrine disruptors.

In the Dec. 15 ruling, applauded by Sweden, Europe’s second highest court said the EU executive had breached the union’s own law by not making provisions to identify such chemicals in everyday products.

The judges added that Commission had had a “clear, precise and unconditional obligation” to adopt the criteria by December 2013, the agreed date.

An appeal can be brought before Europe’s highest court, the Court of Justice, within two months.

Some of the controversial substances, which include diethylstilbestrol (DES), polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs), dioxins, perfluoroalkylcompounds, solvents, phthalates, bisphenol A (BPA), organophosphate and organochlorine pesticides, and polybrominated diphenyl ethers (PBDE) are already banned or restricted in some EU countries, including Sweden.

Following a declaration presented to it by public health scientists from around the world in May 2013, the Commission had agreed to establish criteria for identification of endocrine disruptors by the end of that year.

When no action had been taken by May 2014, Sweden’s then-environment minister, Lena Ek, announced plans to sue the Commission, to “force it to deliver the scientific criteria so we can start moving toward a poison-free society.”

Janez Potocnik, at the time EU environment commissioner, said the delays were due to the complexity of the issue, the evolving science and the diverging views among scientists and stakeholders, adding that the Commission was “doing its best to address the issue.”

Sweden, along with European health and environment advocacy groups, has accused EU officials of bowing to pressure from the chemical industry.