Compliance with EU biocides directive low

Notification of legal implementation received by Commission from Denmark alone

All but one of the 15 EU member states have failed to implement on time an EU directive aimed at lessening the environmental impact of biocides, ENDS Daily has learned. The deadline expired last month, since when member states should have communicated to the Commission the existence of a new legal framework governing licensing of new biocidal products through a tougher, harmonised procedure.

Biocides are non-agricultural pesticides such as wood preservatives and rodenticides. The formal deadline for transposition of the 1998 directive into national legislation plus informing the Commission of this was 14 May. Only Denmark has achieved both steps, though Austria and Finland have both announced measures to transpose the directive.

Under the directive, biocides approved anywhere in the EU before 14 May are now termed "existing" preparations and for a transitional period of ten years can be approved in any other member state under pre-directive national rules.

However, all "new" biocides proposed for market authorisation after 14 May cannot be approved unless their active ingredient is listed in an annex to the directive as one that is safe for use. Companies developing novel active ingredients have to compile a dossier proving they are eligible for inclusion in the annex. Products authorised by one member state and approved by a member state committee of experts can then be marketed freely in the rest of the EU.

The European Commission told ENDS Daily today that all member states that had failed to notify transposition within a few weeks were likely to become subject to infringement action after the summer.

Meanwhile, the Commission is drafting a programme to assess whether any of the 400-or-so existing active biocidal ingredients should be banned before the 10-year transition period expires, in around three-and-a-half years' time. A recent report by consultants Frost and Sullivan suggests that around 75% of the 10-18,000 biocidal products currently in use in the EU could eventually be banned.

The report also suggests that compiling a dossier to win approval for a new active ingredient would cost companies up to US$5m (euros 5.3m). The European Commission is only expecting one or two such applications each year, according to an official.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111. Frost and Sullivan, tel: +1 408 392 2000, and report entitled Strategic Review of the Impacts of the Biocidal Products Directive.

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