Industry fingerprints on European Green Deal

A wish list of chemical industry demands has been identified in the EU’s flagship environmental policy manifesto, the European Green Deal, set to be announced this week.

Manmade toxic chemicals are linked to rising healthfertilitydevelopmental and environmental problems, including the collapse in insect, bird and aquatic mammal populations.

Last week, a damning European Environment Agency report found that chemicals are one of Europe’s main environmental problems and most off-track policy areas. Environment ministers and parliamentarians have repeatedly called on the European Commission to do more on chemical safety.

Ursula von der Leyen duly promised a “zero pollution” goal and other improvements within a European Green Deal as part of her bid to become Commission president.

But a recent leak of the Green Deal reflected a host of chemical industry preferences. Plans for a “package of regulatory measures” by 2021 were part of a draft that emerged on 29 November, but were removed in a second draft seen by the European Environmental Bureau days later. That version contained no chemical policy reforms whatsoever. An “innovation principle” is present in a leaked Commission presentation, roughly a copy and paste of industry proposals.

Today, Europe’s largest trade union, consumer and environmental umbrella groups added their voice to calls for better chemical safety laws.

European Environmental Bureau secretary general, Jeremy Wates, said:

“We can only hope that the latest leaks do not fully reflect the current state of thinking in the Commission or that crucial changes to the draft will be made in the remaining days. The biggest environmental policy announcement in years should not feature a rough copy & paste from the wish list of an industry that is doing so much harm to human health and the environment.

The so-called innovation principle is shorthand for the kind of freewheeling corporate behaviour that has led to widespread microplastic and nano chemical pollution around the world in the name of progress, with no precautions whatsoever. Ms Von der Leyen should stick to her zero pollution pledge by breathing new life into EU chemical safety laws, which are some of the best in the world, but woefully under-used.”