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Brussels, 24 November 2010

Environment: Commission asks four Member States to implement EU chemicals legislation

The European Commission is asking Germany, Finland, Poland and Portugal to update their chemicals laws in line with recent changes in legislation agreed at EU level. These Member States did not communicate measures relating to the Directive on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures. Poland has also failed to inform the Commission about the transposition of legislation on biocides. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, a reasoned opinion is being sent by the Commission. The four Member States have two months to comply with the request. Failing this, the Commission may refer them to the European Court of Justice.

Directive 2008/112/EC on classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) of substances and mixtures amends several other Directives which contain provisions on the classification and labelling of chemicals. It affects so-called downstream legislation concerning cosmetics, toys, paints, varnishes, vehicle refinishing products, vehicles and electric and electronic equipment. Its aims include improving information and knowledge to help protect the environment and human health.

Member States had to adopt and publish the laws, regulations and administrative provisions necessary to comply with the new Directive by 1 April 2010. As Germany, Finland, Poland and Portugal did not notify all the implementing legislation in time, the Commission is sending a reasoned opinion.

Poland is also being sent a reasoned opinion for failing to transpose an update to the legislation on biocides into national law. Directive 2009/107/EC amends the directive concerning the placing of biocidal products on the market regarding the extension of certain time periods. Poland should have transposed the legislation into national law by 14 May 2010. As the legislation has still not been adopted, the Commission is sending Poland a reasoned opinion.

Background on CLP legislation

The updated Directive follows the adoption of new rules aligning the EU system of classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures to the United Nations Globally Harmonised System (GHS). This new system will ensure that the same hazards will be described and labelled in the same way all around the world. The rules introduced by the GHS are integrated in Regulation 1272/2008 which gradually replaces current legislation on the classification, labelling and packaging of chemical substances and mixtures.

Background on updated biocides legislation

The new Directive extends the deadline for the assessment of existing active substances in so-called biocidal products which include disinfectants and insect repellants. Active substances are chemicals or micro-organisms which have a specific action on or against harmful organisms. A systematic examination of all existing active substances on the EU market began in 2000 and was due to finish by 14 May 2010. In order to complete this exercise, the deadline has now been extended to 14 May 2014.

For current statistics on infringements in general see:

For more details on infringement procedures in general, see MEMO/10/605

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