Germany bids for total ban on TBT use

Government notifies draft law, "regretting" Commission's failure to propose coordinated action

Germany has threatened a new EU chemicals row by notifying to the European Commission draft legislation for a complete ban on tributyltin (TBT), mainly known for its use as an anti-fouling agent on ships. The move is significant since the Belgian government attempted go beyond current EU restrictions on TBT use only last year, but was overruled (ENDS Daily 21 August 2000).

Germany's proposed ban goes far beyond existing EU rules, which prohibit use of TBT on boats under 25 metres and those designed for inland use. In addition to broadening this ban to cover all vessels, it would also prohibit TBT use in treatment of textiles and in certain consumer products. Greenpeace Germany embarrassed the government repeatedly last year, by releasing test data showing TBT traces in products ranging from children's beach toys to babies' nappies (ENDS Daily 30 August 2000).

Announcing despatch of the draft regulation on Monday, German environment minister Jürgen Trittin said he would ideally have liked to see tougher immediate EU controls on TBT, but that the Commission had declined to propose any. Instead, it had indicated only that a draft directive could emerge in 2002, after further talks with the International Maritime Organisation (IMO), which is considering a global ban on TBT use on all ships from 2003 (ENDS Daily 6 October 2000).

German environmental groups have welcomed the government's move, but criticised the European Commission for failing to come up with draft EU legislation more quickly. The EU executive had shown itself to be "irresponsible" by "clearly rejecting consumer protection," said WWF Germany in a statement.

Follow Up:
German environment ministry, tel: +49 30 28 55 00; WWF Germany, tel: +49 69 79 14 40.

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