E-commerce presents new challenges to the protection of consumers and environment. In the recent years enforcement authorities observed a lively chemical trade over the Internet. This type of trade and illicit/careless sales can lead to situations where unauthorised persons acquire dangerous substances. This kind of Internet chemical trade cannot be controlled sufficiently by single regional or national enforcement bodies alone, because traders can be situated all over the entire EU and even the world. Online-based chemicals trafficking can only successfully be fought through multilateral cooperation
involving chemical enforcement authorities on the international level.
The Chemical Legislation European Enforcement Network (CLEEN) has monitored the unlawful trade in dangerous chemicals and chemical products on Internet auctions, Internet shops and similar platforms relevant for end-consumers and performed a project on this matter. The final report of this enforcement project is now published.
The campaign covered chemicals such as: toxic and very toxic substances, ozone depleting substances, forbidden biocides, substances restricted by REACH Annex XVII and precursors to explosives. Within a period of two years the authorities of 8 involved European countries detected almost 1300 illegal offers on platforms, blocked sales and imposed various measures against vendors, ranging from simple advice to fines to legal proceedings, depending on the circumstances of the cases.
Based on the obtained results the report concludes that illegal transactions, due to unawareness or the deliberate violation of the legal provisions that apply to chemicals, are widely spread. However, authorities are often facing difficulties to take efficient measures against cross-border selling because of an insufficient legal basis and the laborious procedures required for conducting international administrative assistance.
At last, the report is making recommendations for improvement of compliance in this e-commerce sector addressed to the EU Commission, the national authorities, online vendors and online platforms. The recommended measures include the harmonizing of legislation, the strengthening of Internet surveillance and enforcement and a step-up on taking responsibility among platform operators for ensuring fully compliant trade on their websites.