EU regulations round-up December 2023: Ministers and MEPs approve new chemical classification law

11 December 2023

Keith Nuthall reports for PPCJ on the latest European regulation and legislation updates affecting the coatings industry 

Paint and coatings manufacturers and traders within the European Union (EU) are facing changes to the key EU regulation on the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals (the CLP regulation). The European Parliament and the EU Council of Ministers have struck a deal on updating the existing 2008 law, aimed at increasing protection of human health and the environment, while easing access to up-to-date information on chemicals hazards and simplified labelling rules. The new law should streamline how paint manufacturers provide information on chemical hazards of chemicals. It also includes rules on simpler and clearer labelling and advertising requirements, such as a minimum font size for labels. 


The agreement comes as the Council and Parliament are undertaking the final stages of talks to agree a text for a new EU construction products regulation, which will help standardise such items and inputs, many of them integrating coatings, across the EU. This includes 3-D printed construction products. 


MEPs and ministers have also approved tighter limits on the exposure of EU workers to diisocyanates, an ingredient in paint, coatings, varnishes, adhesives and resins. They also tightened worker exposure limits for lead – although this has been banned as an EU paint ingredient since 2003. 



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And the Council and Parliament have agreed a new directive that will tell all 27 EU member states to criminalise breaches of environmental obligations such as illegal trade and handling of chemicals, including paint and coating ingredients. 


An assessment by regulators within the EU, European Economic Area (Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and Switzerland discovered that 37% of more than 3,500 biocidal products contained 60 banned active substances. The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) noted that “18% of checked products were non-compliant with fundamental requirements that affect their safe use” – biocides are widely used in paints and preservatives.


An ECHA report has called for further research into EU chemical safety, harvesting better data relevant to regulating chemicals. More studies are needed on biological effects of chemical products that currently lack specific and sensitive test methods, such as on developmental and adult neurotoxicity, immunotoxicity and endocrine disruption, it said. More research is also needed on polymers, chemical bioaccumulation, impact on biodiversity, environmental exposure assessments, it said. 


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