European Commission delays in publishing the scientific criteria needed to identify and reduce exposure to hormone-disrupting chemicals, which the UNEP/WHO sees as a global threat to public health, were condemned by Parliament in in a resolution voted on Wednesday. The text, on “endocrine disruptors”, points out that the Commission’s persistent failure to publish the criteria, which were due by the end of 2013, also breaches EU law.
MEPs condemn the European Commission not only for failing to deliver upon its obligation to adopt the scientific criteria but also for failing to comply with its institutional obligations as laid down in the EU Treaties, in a resolution passed by 593 votes to 57 with 19 abstentions.
The European Court of Justice ruled, in December 2015, that the EU executive had breached EU law by failing to publish the criteria and MEPs have repeatedly urged the EU to clamp down on the substances.
MEPs note that proposed scientific criteria were ready in 2013, but remained unpublished as the Commission decided to launch an impact assessment instead, a move that was neither required by EU law nor appropriate for deciding on a scientific matter, as the Court clarified.
However, they also take note of the Commission’s political pledge to propose the criteria before the summer.
A UNEP/WHO report called endocrine disruptors a “global threat”, referring inter alia to the upward trends in many endocrine-related disorders in humans and wildlife populations. There is evidence of adverse reproductive outcomes (infertility, cancers, malformations) from exposure to the substances, which could also affect thyroid function, brain function, obesity, metabolism, insulin and glucose homeostasis, it says.
Procedure: Commission statement followed by debate (with resolution)
- Commission was to specify scientific criteria for determining endocrine-disrupting properties of substances before 13 December 2013, as a first step
- Court ruled that Commission had a clear obligation to establish the criteria, which are now more than two and a half years overdue
- Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker said in a letter to Parliament’s President Martin Schulz that the criteria would be approved by the end of June 2016