The European Council endorsed on March 15 a new chemicals strategy setting a long-term vision for the EU chemicals policy.

According to the Council, the strategy aims to achieve a toxic-free environment with a higher level of protection of human health and the environment, while strengthening the competitiveness of the EU’s chemicals industry. In its conclusions, the Council asked the Commission to implement the actions laid down in the strategy, including targeted amendments to streamline EU chemicals legislation, substituting and minimising substances of concern, and phasing out the most harmful chemicals for non-essential societal uses.

The strategy specifically sets out to ban the most harmful chemicals in consumer products such as cosmetics, toys, detergents, childcare items, furniture, textiles or materials that come in contact with food, unless they are deemed essential for health, safety or the functioning of society, or if no alternative is available.

The Council also highlighted the importance of limiting exposure to endocrine disruptors, which are hazardous for the hormone system, and to reducing the harmful effects of chemical mixtures.

The strategy aims to phase-out hazardous chemicals that affect vulnerable groups. Overall, all chemicals should be used more sustainably and safely, the Council said.

A key novelty in the strategy is the shift of focus onto a” safe and sustainable-by-design” approach. Member states support this life-cycle approach that takes into account the toxicity of chemicals at all stages of their existence – from manufacture to use, recycling and disposal. The purpose is to prevent hazardous chemicals from entering products already at the design phase. This approach also aims to boost innovation and sustainability in the chemicals sector.

The Council endorsed the EU taking a leading role at the global stage, by promoting its rules on chemicals as the golden standard, as well as ensuring that the EU has secured access to chemicals that are critical for health and the functioning of society.


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