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Parliamentary questions
19 June 2009
E-3423/2009
Answer given by Ms Vassiliou on behalf of the Commission

The Commission does not have any data on the number of people who claim to be electro-hypersensitive in the EU, nor of the number of people who have moved for that reason. So far, the Commission does not plan to carry out a survey on this issue.

The Commission is not aware of countries setting up zones that are free of man-made electromagnetic radiation.

In the case of Sweden, the Swedish National Board of Health and Welfare (NBHW) is the Swedish authority that may grant financial support to organisations that represent disabled people. This is understood by the Swedish authorities as organisations whose members (or at least a majority of them) meet substantial difficulties in everyday life due to some kind of disability. Therefore, the NBHW makes its decisions based on the effective disability of the afflicted individuals and not on any known underlying cause of the disability.

The Swedish Association of Electrosensitive People was granted financial support as an organisation of disabled people. This has sometimes been misinterpreted as if electromagnetic hypersensitivity is a recognised medical diagnosis in Sweden. With regard to ill health attributed by the afflicted individual to ‘electrical/electromagnetic hypersensitivity’, there is no diagnostic test and there is no method available to date to determine if a person is really hypersensitive to electromagnetic fields. So there is an unfortunate situation where the experiences of the afflicted individuals are not supported by the results of scientific investigation.

As requested by the Treaty, the Commission intends to ensure a high level of protection of the public across the EU. This is what Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC(1) sets out to achieve with respect to electromagnetic fields. Most Member States agree that the exposure limits proposed by the recommendation ensure a high level of protection(2). The Member States who have decided to adopt stricter exposure limits have done so without developing a scientific rationale to that effect, and the Commission does not expect to see any public health benefit resulting from these measures.

So far, the independent scientific advice available, including the latest opinion from the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (Scenihr) adopted in January 2009, fails to identify any rationale for the modification of the exposure limits foreseen by the Council Recommendation.

(1)Council Recommendation (1999/519/EC) of 12 July 1999 on the limitation of the exposure of the public to electromagnetic radiation (0 Hz to 300 GHz).
(2)Report from the Commission on the application of Council Recommendation (1999/519/EC) of 12 July 1999 on the limitation of the exposure of the public to electromagnetic radiation (0 Hz to 300 GHz) — Second implementation Report 2002‑07 — COM(2008)532 final.

OJ C 189, 13/07/2010
Last updated: 29 June 2009Legal notice