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Scientific Committees for consumer safety, public health and the environment

The European Union is establishing three advisory Scientific Committees working in the fields of consumer safety, public health and the environment. Their job is to provide the Commission with scientific advice in their respective fields.

ACT

Commission Decision 2008/721/EC of 5 August 2008 setting up an advisory structure of Scientific Committees and experts in the field of consumer safety, public health and the environment and repealing Decision 2004/210/EC [See Amending act(s)].

SUMMARY

The current Decision sets up an advisory structure to assist the Commission in evaluating scientific risks related to consumer safety, public health and the environment.

This structure is composed of three committees: the Scientific Committee on Consumer Products (SCCP), the Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER) and the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR).

The committees are consulted on questions which do not fall within the competence of other Community bodies. They give opinions at the request of the Commission or on their own initiative, in particular in the case of an emergency concerning a specific risk or to identify new research needs.

Fields of competence

The SCCP provides opinions on all existing risks to the health and safety of consumers concerning non-food products, such as cosmetic products, toys, textiles, clothing, personal care products, household products (detergents, etc.) and consumer services (tattooing, etc.).

The SCHER provides opinions on the health and environmental risks caused by pollution or changing physical conditions such as air, water and soil quality. It provides environmental assessments on the life cycle and toxicity and ecotoxicity of biocides. In collaboration with other competent European bodies, it can provide opinions on the toxicity and ecotoxicity of chemical, biochemical and biological compounds.

The SCENIHR provides opinions on questions concerning emerging or newly identified health risks, as well as on broader issues or those related indirectly to risk assessment. Examples of potential areas of activity include antimicrobial resistance, new technologies (nanotechnologies, etc.), medical devices (including those incorporating substances of animal and/or human origin), tissue engineering, blood products, fertility reduction, cancer of endocrine organs, physical hazards such as noise and electromagnetic fields (from mobile phones, transmitters and electronically controlled home environments). It can also provide opinions on risks related to public health determinants and non-transmissible diseases.

How the Committees work

The members of the three Committees are appointed by the Commission on the basis of their skills and according to a geographical distribution.

The SCCP, the SCHER and the SCENIHR comprise a maximum of 17 members each. The Commission decides the number of appointed members to each committee depending on the scientific requirements. Members have a renewable term of three years. They cannot be appointed to the same committee more than three times consecutively.

The Commission appoints scientific advisors to the Pool for a period of five years, renewable. The committees can invite five experts as associate members to contribute to the preparation of opinions and deliberations. When required the scientific committees can use the assistance of working groups open to specialised external experts.

The three Committees have adopted common rules of procedure which ensure their compliance with the principles of excellence, independence, transparency and confidentiality. The committees are coordinated by an Inter-Committee Coordination Group (ICCG) composed of the Chairs and Vice-Chairs of the scientific committees.

Context

Decision 2004/210/EC is repealed to improve the effectiveness of the advisory structure of scientific committees, to enlarge the scope of scientific expertise and to reduce the reaction time to risks.

REFERENCES

Act Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2008/721/EC

5.9.2008

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OJ L 241 of 10.9.2008

Amending act(s) Entry into force Deadline for transposition in the Member States Official Journal

Decision 2009/566/EC

27.7.2009

-

OJ L 196 of 28.7.2009

Decision 2010/309/EU

5.6.2010

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OJ L 138 of 4.6.2010

Last updated: 20.08.2010
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