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12 April 2002

EU Directive proposal to restrict hazardous substances (RoHS)
in electrical and electronic equipment waste

European Regulators Agree that the Future of the Flame Retardants deca-BDE and octa-BDE should be based on their Risk Assessments

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) largely confirmed the Council Common Position allowing the two brominated flame retardants, deca-BDE and octa-BDE, to benefit from potential derogation from a ban in E&E sector once their EU scientific risk assessments results are finalized (expected in 2002).

This decision was taken on 10 April during the European Parliament Plenary vote on the second reading of the EU Directive proposal to restrict hazardous substances (RoHS) in electrical and electronic equipment waste.

Acknowledging the fire safety benefits of PBDEs and the high number of lives saved and injuries prevented, MEPs supported an amendment allowing these substances to be used where no alternatives ensuring equivalent consumer safety levels are available.

Another amendment recognising the importance of brominated flame retardants (BFRs) for consumer fire safety recommends the substitution by alternative flame retardants only if the same level of consumer protection is ensured.

A draft amendment to include specific reference to brominated flame retardants in the 2004 review of the future RoHS Directive was resoundingly rejected by the Parliament.

Finally, MEPs called for the RoHS Directive’s substance bans to be harmonized across the EU, starting on 1st January 2006.  Thus, individual EU Member States will not be able to adopt earlier bans nor will they be allowed to adopt isolated bans of other substances.

These amendments from the European Parliament will be discussed by the EU Member States in Council in the coming months. Although both Parliament and EU Member States agree on amendments regarding deca-BDE and octa-BDE, the draft Directive is expected to go into Conciliation as views differ between the two Institutions on other issues. Final adoption of the Directive is not expected before July.

Statement ends