EU round up – EP agrees biocides regulation

14 March 2012

Agreement has been secured at the European Parliament over a long-debated new European Union (EU) biocides regulation, designed to hasten approvals and assessments of these key coatings ingredients.

MEPs formally approved the regulation, whose final text had been negotiated in advance with the EU Council of Ministers, which is now expected to rubber stamp the law.

The regulation replaces an earlier directive, also designed to assess and approve biocides but whose procedures have become protracted – with the deadline for studies being pushed back to 2013. That is when the new supposedly more simple regulation will come into force (on September 1).

It is designed to use the expertise of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to speed up assessments for biocides, which will be sent to the European Commission for EU sales permission rulings. The parliament’s vote was welcomed by the EU environment commissioner Janez Potočnik as "another step towards ensuring that only safe products are made available and that the most dangerous substances are kept out of our market”.

Sales ban extended

Meanwhile, the Commission has used its powers under the existing general product safety directive to extend a sales ban on products containing the biocide dimethylfumarate (DMFu) until March 15, 2013 or until a proposed restriction under EU chemical control system REACH comes into force, (it is under consideration by MEPs and ministers).

And the Commission has proposed adding three biocides to the list of 33 pollutants that are monitored and controlled in EU rivers, lakes and coastal waters, under a tabled amendment so the EU directive ‘on priority substances in the field of water quality’. The biocidal substances concerned are cybutryne, dichlorvos, and terbutryn.

Looking ahead, ECHA has unveiled a further list of 2300 substances that will be registered in the next round of registration under chemical control system REACH, which must be completed by May 31, 2013. Paint and coatings ingredients are within the list. ECHA has also identified lead registrants for two-thirds of these substances – companies that will coordinate registrations with co-users of certain chemicals. See information-on-chemicals/registered-substances/identified-substances-for-registration-in-2013.

And the agency is encouraging chemical-based companies to submit early questions and information for assessment by its experts through a special pre-submission procedure ­– see

Meanwhile, the EU Council of Ministers has voted to end imports of petrochemicals including those used as coatings inputs from Iran, as part of an oil and gas embargo over concerns it continues to develop nuclear weapons. Existing import contracts can be fulfilled until July 1, with the EU reviewing the ban before May 1.

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