The EU signed the Minamata Convention on Mercury in October 2013 and thereby committed to ensure its ratification and implementation across the Union. On 2 February 2016 the Commission adopted a ratification package that will allow the EU to ratify the Convention once the legislative process is concluded.
The package consists of two proposals:
- Regulation on Mercury repealing and replacing Regulation (EC) 1102/2008;
- Council Decision concerning the conclusion on behalf of the EU of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.
The Regulation will amend current EU legislation by:
- repealing Regulation (EC) 1102/2008, while maintaining its substantive provisions that ban mercury exports and regulate waste mercury disposal;
- prohibiting within the EU any future new uses of mercury in products and industry, unless significant environmental and health benefits are demonstrated and there are no mercury-free alternatives;
- addressing the issue of dental amalgam, by restricting its use to the encapsulated form and by demanding the use of separators by dentists;
- bringing certain additional adjustments to current EU law, necessary to allow the EU to ratify the Convention;
- simplifying certain EU law provisions on mercury.
While the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcomes the new package, its content fails to meet even the lowest of expectations.
“We are deeply disappointed with this bare-bones proposal from the Commission,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Manager. “Under the guise of Better Regulation, it is putting the EU on an embarrassing path from hero to zero in addressing the global mercury threat. The proposal effectively ignores a public consultation, progressive industry voices, and even the scientific findings of its own impact assessment.”
See here the full response of the EEB.