EU row over biocides directive resolved

European Parliament accepts outcome of conciliation with Council of Ministers

The European Parliament today approved a directive that will harmonise EU laws regulating biocides. The vote at its plenary meeting in Strasbourg ends months of wrangling between the assembly and the Council of Ministers, which have been conducted through so-called conciliation talks.

The Parliament voted on a conciliation agreement reached with the Council in December. The agreement means that MEPs will now play a role in compiling lists of approved biocides - non-agricultural pesticides such as disinfectants and preservatives - to be authorised for sale.

The Council had opposed giving this power to MEPs. But because of the legal basis under which the draft biocides directive was proposed by the European Commission, the measure could not be passed without the Parliament's agreement.

The two sides had considerable difficulty in reaching a compromise position and a tripartite meeting between the Council, the Parliament and the Commission on 11 November last year ended in failure, although it was agreed to insert a preamble reflecting the position of the Parliament. An exchange of letters followed and an agreement of sorts was reached in December that did not result in more than minor changes to the text.

All parties have now accepted the agreement that was voted on today, which opens the way for entry into force of the Directive. EU environment commissioner Ritt Bjerregaard today welcomed the development.

The directive will allow a standard procedure throughout Europe for authorising biocidal products in a way that ensures they do not endanger health or the environment. Under the principle of mutual recognition, once a product has been authorised for sale in one member state, it can then be sold in any other. MEPs will be involved in authorising products and will be able to monitor the legislation after it is adopted.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111.

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