Health and environment groups dismiss ‘unreasonable and disingenuous’ attempts to weaken EU protections

Leading health and environmental groups have strongly condemned industry claims that human health concerns fall outside of the scope of the EU’s industrial pollution rules.

 After a META exclusive revealed how chemical industry lobbyists had intervened in an attempt to block toxic chemicals being banned from use in the European textile industry, the leaders of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB), the Center for International Environmental Law (CIEL) and the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL) wrote to the EU’s Environment and Heath and Food Safety Commissioners to express their concerns.

Their letter calls on the European Commission to maintain the historic link between health and environmental protections and rejects recent claims made by the chemical industry lobby group CEFIC and others, that the EU’s industrial standards should not include human health protections.

Singling out chemical, waste incineration and steel industry lobby groups, EEB Industrial Policy Manager Christian Shaible said:

“The resistance of industry lobby groups like CEFIC, CEWEP and EUROFER to have human health protection duly considered within these essential protections is deeply irresponsible. People in Europe expect EU industrial standards to be the best in the world and to offer the greatest protections to human health and the environment.”

In the letter, EEB Secretary General Jeremy Wates writes:

“It is unreasonable and disingenuous to argue that protection of human health falls outside of the scope of the Industrial Emissions Directive, the text of which is peppered throughout with references to human health.”

The Industrial Emissions Directive is the EU’s main instrument for regulating emissions from industrial installations and sets binding standards for major industries across Europe.

The letter also calls for “preventive measures” to be explicitly mentioned in a standard text to be used when drafting future environmental rules. This refers to measures taken to prevent pollution from ever being produced, rather than attempting to clean up or control pollution that has already entered the environment.

The letter reminds the Commissioners that: “…“prevention” is the part of the core aim of the [Industrial Emissions Directive] and “preventive measures” are included in the Directive as the first general principle governing the basic obligations of plant operators”.

The Commission’s most recent draft had excluded all reference to “preventive measures”, which the EEB pointed out had been included in all previous industrial standards documents. The letter argues that failure to prevent harmful pollution: “is clearly inconsistent with the current Commission’s stated goal of leading “a Europe that protects”.


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The letter is available to download here: ‘Human health and preventive action considerations in Best Available Techniques Reference Documents (BREFs) under the Industrial Emissions Directive (IED)