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agreement on electronics Directives means future EU regulatory status
On Friday 11 October, the European Parliament and the EU Council of Member States came to a final agreement on the draft Directives on Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) and on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS).
Earlier this year, the EU had agreed to phase-out the PBB and PBDE flame retardants but had adopted the possibility of an exemption for Octa-BDE and Deca-BDE should this be justified under emerging EU risk assessments. Octa-BDE will now not be exempted from the phase-out due to recent risk assessment conclusions recommending its phase-out. However, for Deca-BDE, the risk assessment has so far found no significant risk and, following the assessment's completion in the Summer of 2003, it will be possible for the EU to exempt Deca-BDE from phase-out under the RoHS Directive (1).
The importance of the 11 October agreement is that the EU will base its decision for Deca-BDE on scientific risk assessment and individual EU Member States will not be able to undermine this. Under the Council/Parliament agreement, each EU Member State will have to wait until July 2006 to introduce the restrictions under the RoHS Directive, thus maintaining the cohesion of the EU Single Market for electrical and electronic products.
Véronique Steukers, Chair of the European Brominated Flame Retardant Industry Panel (EBFRIP) welcomed the Council and Parliament's decision stating that "The Conciliation agreement means that the future EU regulatory status of Deca-BDE will be based on scientific risk assessment. This is surely a welcome conclusion for Deca-BDE, a chemical substance for which a significant risk has not been identified either for the environment or for human health and which continues to save 1000s of lives through fire prevention".
(1) See the review procedure mentioned for Deca-BDE in the last paragraph of the Annex of the RoHS Directive