EU action demanded on flame retardants

Nordics call for rapid phase-out of brominated compounds at EU Environment Council

Sweden and Denmark yesterday called on fellow EU states to phase out brominated compounds used to make furniture and electronic equipment fire-resistant, claiming they posed unacceptable threats to human health and the environment. In a memorandum submitted at the Environment Council, the two countries said the EU should act on brominated flame retardants "as soon as possible". "State-of-the-art science does not allow the conclusion that releases of these substances into the environment will not cause harm in the future," they said.

Swedish environment minister Kjell Larsson told ENDS Daily: "These things are bioaccumulative and persistent, and that should be enough to phase them out." He said that progress was "going too slowly at European level" and that although EU-level action is the preferred course for a phase-out, Sweden was investigating "parallel" measures aiming at removing the substances from the environment.

Among other business at the Environment Council:

EU environment commissioner Margot Wallström presented ministers with recent Commission communications on the assessment of the fifth environmental action programme and reports on environmental policy integration and environmental indicators (ENDS Daily 25 November) (ENDS Daily 24 November).

She also explained the aims of a proposed framework for urban sustainable development (ENDS Daily 9 December) and gave a statement of progress on a new strategy for chemicals management (ENDS Daily 7 December).

Outlining her work programme for the coming year, she told ministers she would be concentrating on the chemical policy review, introducing stricter criteria for authorising genetically modified organisms, improving air quality, reducing waste and establishing clearer rules for risk assessment and management.

The Finnish EU presidency presented a progress report on the controversial national emissions ceilings directive, which will set upper national limits on emissions of sulphur dioxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia and volatile organic compounds (ENDS Daily 4 November).

Finally, the French delegation reported on the success of a recent car-free day initiative (ENDS Daily 23 September), and ministers welcomed a report on the environmental damage caused by the Kosovo war and "emphasised the importance of the clean-up and remediation of the identified environmental hotspots caused by the conflict."

Follow Up:
EU Council of Ministers, tel: +32 2 285 6111. References: The meeting conclusions are posted on the Council's web site.

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