On 4th October, the European Parliament issued an objection to the Draft Commission regulation amending Annex II to Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 by setting out scientific criteria for the determination of endocrine disrupting properties. The European Parliament took issue with the last paragraph of the Draft Regulation, which allowed for excluding a substance with an intended endocrine mode of action from being identified as an endocrine disrupter for non-target organisms. According to the European Parliament, this exception was not based on scientific criteria as required by the Court; instead, the EU Commission took into account other criteria such as economic ones, thereby exceeding its implementing powers.
Endocrine Disrupting Chemicals (EDCs) are an exogenous substance or mixture that alters function(s) of the endocrine system and consequently causes adverse health effects in an intact organism. They are widely used and can be found in food and in a variety of consumer products, including toys and cosmetics. Even though the study of the effects of EDCs is ongoing, there are numerous studies showing the association between EDCs and human diseases, ranging from reproductive and endocrine to autoimmune and cardiopulmonary (see e.g. on World Health Organisation's website). Children are particularly vulnerable and their exposure to EDCs is linked to increased incidences of reproductive diseases, endocrine-related cancers, behavioural and learning problems amongst others.
Given that EDCs pose a real threat to the health of consumers and especially children, it is imperative that they are effectively regulated. The EU is leading the way in regulating EDCs, as it is in the process of adopting legally binding criteria to determine what is an endocrine disruptor, something that no country has done so far (see Commission's communication).
When regulating endocrine disruptors consumers' health and protection of the environment are the priority rather than the internal market. This was the message sent by the European Parliament to the EU Commission which now has to modify and resubmit the Draft Regulation. This development was welcomed also by BEUC, which urged for higher standards in relation to EDCs.
In anticipation of the EU Commission’s revised Draft Regulation, it is reassuring that its new direction will be towards a stricter standard for regulation of endocrine disruptors to the benefit of consumers.