First legislative proposal amending the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive ('CMD 1')

In “Employment and Social Affairs - EMPL”

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In parallel with the Action Plan for the Circular Economy, which aims at optimising the use of resources (see specific Action Plan), the Commission also intends to take steps to mitigate threats to a healthy environment. In that context, the Commission seeks to review the existing occupational safety and health (OSH) legislation, and notably to improve the efficiency and effectiveness of an EU framework for protecting workers.

On 13 May 2016, the Commission submitted a proposal amending the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (2004/37/EC). It aims at limiting exposure to certain cancer-causing chemicals at the workplace by introducing occupational exposure limit values (OELs) for 13 of 25 priority chemical agents.

The Council reached a general approach at its session of 13 October 2016. The general approach modifies only the recitals, mostly by additions referring to OELs.

European Parliament rapporteur Marita Ulvskog (S&D, Sweden) published her draft report in November 2016. It was adopted in the Committee on Employment and Social Affairs (EMPL) meeting of 28 February 2017.

After interinstitutional negotiations, the Maltese presidency and Parliament reached a provisional agreement on 28 June 2017, which was approved by the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee on 11 July 2017. The main changes to the Commission proposal are: 

  • Reprotoxic substances: the Commission will have to assess the possibility of including reprotoxins in the scope of the directive, as supported by Parliament, by the first quarter of 2019 at the latest, and may present a legislative proposal.
  • Chromium VI: there will be an exposure limit value of 0.010 mg/m3 for a period of five years after the date of transposition of the directive; after that, a limit of 0.005 mg/m3 will apply. A derogation for welding, plasma-cutting or similar processes puts a limit of 0.025 mg/m3 for the first 5 years and of 0.005 mg/m3 thereafter.
  • Hardwood dust: a limit is set at 3 mg/m3 for five years after the entry into force of the directive and is lowered to 2 mg/m3 thereafter.
  • Respiratory crystalline silica dust: the Commission committed itself to evaluating the need to modify the limit value for respirable crystalline silica dust as part of the next evaluation of the implementation of the directive.
  • Health surveillance: the doctor or authority responsible for the health surveillance of workers within the Member States may indicate that health surveillance must continue after the end of exposure, for as long as needed to safeguard health.

The EMPL committee adopted the provisional agreement resulting from interinstitutional negotiations on 30 August 2017. The text was the subject of a first-reading vote during the October II plenary session, and Parliament endorsed it on 25 October with 540 votes in favour, 6 against and 119 abstentions. The Council formally adopted the directive on 7 December. The final act was signed by the presidents of the co-legislators on 12 December. It was published in the Official Journal as Directive (EU) 2017/2398 and entered into force on 16 January 2018.

Following on from the current initiative, the Commission published a second proposal to amend the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive on 10 January 2017 and a third proposal on 5 April 2018.

(For more information, see also the separate Legislative Train carriages on the second and third proposals.)


Further reading:

Author: Nicole Scholz, Members' Research Service,

Visit the European Parliament homepage on Social Europe.

As of 20/11/2019.