UK exits the EU (Brexit Preparedness)

I posted so far a number of times (marked EU Notices) about the guidance issued to stakeholders by the European Commission and the EU regulators. Note : there are now 65 EU Notices issued, and this material is gathered here.

In addition, please note I posted in 2017 about the going forward invalidity of UK issued carbon credits (EUETS scheme).

On 18th April, the FT published an article about approximately 40 new legislative proposals to be issued over the next 10 weeks or so (in addition to the EU Notices). This article is here. At EU level, these legislative proposals are marked “Brexit Preparedness”.

So far :

(1) a wider consultation on WTO schedules (separation of UK from EU) – here.

(2) a proposal on EU type-approval legislation – here.

Yesterday, the Irish state broadcaster RTÉ published an article of a briefing by the Secretary General of the European Commission to the Brexit Steering Group of the European Parliament (and an associated internal document of the planned Brexit Preparedness legislative proposals).

This article identifies the list of areas for these new proposals – banking, tariffs, energy efficiency, medicines, visa, and transport.

Among the proposals is a plan to design a maritime route to link Ireland and the Continental part of the North Sea-Mediterranean Corridor.

The RTE report is here.

Single-use plastics : new rules proposed (EU)

The European Commission is proposing new EU-wide rules to target the 10 single-use plastic products most often found on Europe’s beaches and seas, as well as lost and abandoned fishing gear.

The proposed new rules (if agreed) will introduce :

(1) Plastic ban in certain products: Where alternatives are readily available and affordable, single-use plastic products will be banned from the market. The ban will apply to plastic cotton buds, cutlery, plates, straws, drink stirrers and sticks for balloons which will all have to be made exclusively from more sustainable materials instead. Single-use drinks containers made with plastic will only be allowed on the market if their caps and lids remain attached;

(2) Consumption reduction targets: Member States will have to reduce the use of plastic food containers and drinks cups. They can do so by setting national reduction targets, making alternative products available at the point of sale, or ensuring that single-use plastic products cannot be provided free of charge;

(3) Obligations for producers: Producers will help cover the costs of waste management and clean-up, as well as awareness raising measures for food containers, packets and wrappers (such as for crisps and sweets), drinks containers and cups, tobacco products with filters (such as cigarette butts), wet wipes, balloons, and lightweight plastic bags. The industry will also be given incentives to develop less polluting alternatives for these products;

(4) Collection targets: Member States will be obliged to collect 90% of single-use plastic drinks bottles by 2025, for example through deposit refund schemes;

(5) Labelling Requirements: Certain products will require a clear and standardised labelling which indicates how waste should be disposed, the negative environmental impact of the product, and the presence of plastics in the products. This will apply to sanitary towels, wet wipes and balloons;

(6) Awareness-raising measures: Member States will be obliged to raise consumers’ awareness about the negative impact of littering of single-use plastics and fishing gear as well as about the available re-use systems and waste management options for all these products.

The Commission’s proposals will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.

NOTE : some EU member states already have legislation in place or planned, for part or all of these measures.

See here, for the European Commission press release.

Insecticide Restrictions Upheld (EU)

The General Court of the European Union this morning confirmed the validity of the restrictions introduced at EU level in 2013 against the insecticides clothianidin, thiamethoxam and imidacloprid (neonicotinoids) because of the risks those substances pose to bees.

However, it largely upheld the action brought by BASF and annulled the measures restricting the use of the pesticide fipronil, since they were imposed without a prior impact assessment.

The press release is here.

The General Court (EGC) is a constituent court of the Court of Justice of the European Union.

The European Commission had already decided on 27 April to extend existing measures to ban the outdoor use of the three neonicotinoids, after realising the necessary qualified majority among EU member states. Information about this is here.

18 member states, including France, Germany, Italy and the UK, endorsed the Commission proposal to further restrict the use of the three active substances used in pesticides (Bayer’s imidacloprid and clothianidin, and Syngenta’s thiamethoxam).

The countries that voted against were Hungary, Romania, Denmark and the Czech Republic.

The new ban on outdoor use will be in effect by the end of 2018.

Carcinogens and Mutagens (EU)

I posted in 2017 about new developments with the European Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (2004/37/EC). Find this in the Chemicals archive on this Blog.

A new proposal is now made (the third legislative amendment since the start of this European Commission. Note : the Directive was already amended before these current developments). This third amendment is here. In total, there are three current amendments outlined in this Blog post.

Apart from the third amendment, two previous legislative amendments were proposed by the Commission, in May 2016 and January 2017. Together they proposed limit values to 20 carcinogens. The first of these proposals (the 2016 one) was adopted by the co-legislators as Directive (EU) 2017/2398 (which is an amendment to Directive 2004/37/EC).

NB : Member States have until the start of 2020 to implement Directive (EU) 2017/2398.

The first revision adds 13 new or stricter exposure limits to the EU Directive. Respirable crystalline silica dust, benzene and vinyl chloride monomer are three of the substances affected.

The second proposal for legislative amendments (the 2017 one) is currently being discussed by legislators. The second revision sees new binding occupational exposure limits (Boels), and in some cases skin notations set for:

trichloroethylene;

4,4-methylenedianiline;

epichlorohydrine;

ethylene dibromide;

ethylene dichloride; and

mixtures containing benzo(a)pyrene.

As part of this latest (third) amendment to the CMD, five carcinogens of high relevance for the protection of workers are selected:

• Cadmium and its inorganic compounds;

• Beryllium and inorganic beryllium compounds;

• Arsenic acid and its salts, as well as inorganic arsenic compounds;

• Formaldehyde;

• 4,4′-Methylene-bis(2-chloroaniline) (MOCA).

Background

The EU principles of worker protection from carcinogens are laid out in the over-arching Occupational Safety and Health (OSH) Framework Directive 89/391/EEC and those Directives specifically dealing with chemical risks – notably the Chemical Agents Directive (CAD) and the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD).

Under the OSH framework, risks to the safety and health of workers must be eliminated, or, if total elimination is not possible, reduced to a minimum. Employers must identify and assess risks to workers associated with exposure to specific carcinogens and mutagens at the workplace, and must prevent exposure where risks occur. Where this is technically possible, substitution with a non- or less-hazardous process or chemical agent is required. In cases where such substitution is not possible, chemical carcinogens must, as far as it is technically possible, be manufactured and used in a closed system to prevent workers’ exposure. Where this is not possible either, worker exposure must be reduced to as low a level as is technically possible.

The Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive (CMD) sets a number of general provisions to prevent or reduce exposure for all carcinogens and mutagens falling under its scope. In addition to these general minimum requirements, the CMD indicates occupational exposure limit values (OELs) for all those carcinogens or mutagens for which this is possible, as an essential means to protect workers.

From time to time, there are revisions proposed to the CMD (and the CAD).

Email Alerts

Email Alerts are issued closer to the date when Member States must implement the changes to the EU law. Otherwise, please continue to follow this Blog.

Brexit

The first of these amendments must be implemented by early in January 2020. It is not known if the UK will implement this amendment.

Personal Protective Equipment (EU)

Existing PPE Directive 89/686/EEC covers the manufacture and marketing of personal protective equipment. It defines legal obligations to ensure that PPE on the European market provides the highest level of protection against hazards. The CE marking affixed to PPE provides evidence of this protection. Manufacturers or their authorised representative in the EU comply with the technical requirements directly or with European Harmonised Standards. The latter provides a presumption of conformity to the essential health and safety requirements.

Applicable 21 April 2018, Directive 89/686/EEC is repealed by the new Regulation (EU) 2016/425 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 9 March 2016 on personal protective equipment – here.

The new PPE Regulation is aligned to the EU’s New Legislative Framework policy. In addition, it slightly modifies the scope (enlarged to include PPE designed and manufactured for private use to protect against heat) and the risk categorisation of products. It also clarifies the documentary obligations of economic operators.

As a European Regulation (not a Directive) it is directly binding on a Member State (and on operators marketing to a Member State) without enactment of national law (although national law may be additionally enacted).

Brexit : PPE is covered by the EU Notice on Industrial Goods here. (I have posted a number of times with links to EU Notices)

Brexit in the UK, this new EU PPE Regulation applies from 21 April 2018, after Brexit it applies via the EU (Withdrawal) Bill. NB: the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is not yet enacted.

Subscribers to Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers and Checklists will be sent an Email Alert of the addition of this new EU Regulation to the PPE Register and Checklist component in their websystems.

General Data Protection Regulation (EU)

The General Data Protection Regulation (2016/679) is here. Article 5 sets out the principles.

This GDPR applies from 25th May 2018 and overrides national law (although in some instances new national law may additionally be brought in).

[Brexit : the GDPR applies in the UK from 25th May 2018 – after Brexit, the GDPR will apply in the UK via the EU (Withdrawal) Bill – see separate Blog post – the EU (Withdrawal) Bill is not yet enacted]

[UK : separately (and not to be confused) a new UK Data Protection Bill is almost enacted – see Explanatory Notes here]

The general data protection regulation (GDPR) is part of the EU data protection reform package.

Features

• a single set of EU-wide rules — it repeals the pre-existing European Directive 95/46/EC;

• a data protection officer, responsible for data protection, must be designated by public authorities and by businesses which process data on a large scale;

• one-stop-shop — businesses will deal with one single supervisory authority (in the EU country in which they are mainly based);

• EU rules for non-EU companies — companies based outside the EU must apply the same rules when offering services or goods, or monitoring the behaviour of individuals, within the EU;

• privacy-friendly techniques must be used, such as pseudonymisation (when identifying fields within a data record are replaced by one or more artificial identifiers) and encryption (when data is coded in such a way that only authorised parties can read it);

• removal of notifications — the new data protection rules will scrap most notification obligations and the costs associated with these, one of the aims of the data protection regulation is to remove obstacles to free flow of personal data within the EU;

• impact assessments — businesses must carry out impact assessments when data processing may result in a high risk for the rights and freedoms of individuals;

• record-keeping — SMEs are not required to keep records of processing activities, unless the processing is regular or likely to result in a risk to the rights and freedoms of the person whose data is being processed.

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The UK Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has a useful updated guide in English here.

ICO guidance for small organisations is here.

Plastic Strategy (EU)

The EU has adopted today (16th January 2018) its first plastic strategy. The press release is here. The Q&A is here.

Next Steps

The new Directive on port reception facilities proposed today will now go to the European Parliament and Council for adoption.

Subject to Better Regulation requirements, the Commission will present the proposal on single-use plastics later in 2018.

Stakeholders have until 12 February 2018 to contribute to the ongoing public consultation.

The Commission will launch the work on the revision of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive and prepare guidelines on separate collection and sorting of waste to be issued in 2019.

For the full list of measures and their timeline, see the Annex to the Plastics Strategy here.

A few remarks (in the UK Brexit context)

(1) I posted a few days ago about imminent changes to 6 EU Waste Directives (the EU Circular Economy Package). The new rules will fix a new target of 55% recycling of plastic packaging waste by 2030, set a ban on landfilling separately collected waste and fix stronger arrangements for extended producer responsibility (EPR) schemes. It is not announced if the UK will follow this.

(2) The EU Plastic Strategy identifies that by 2030 all plastic packaging should be designed to be recyclable or reusable. To achieve this, the European Commission will work on a revision of the legislative requirements for placing packaging on the market. The revision process will focus on defining the concept of design for recyclability. The goal is to decrease the quantity of waste generated and to avoid that these materials end up as litter, are incinerated or are landfilled where can be recycled. This also includes the issue of over-packaging. It is not announced if the UK will follow this (the commitment in the UK 25-yr environmental plan is to eliminate plastic waste where practicable by 2042).

(3) Microplastics are plastic particles smaller than 5 mm. They end up in the surface waters and the marine environment, either because they are used intentionally in products in order to accomplish a certain function (e.g. microbeads in cosmetics as exfoliating agents) or because they are generated through the breakdown of larger plastic pieces and through the wear and tear of products (e.g. through abrasion of tyres or washing of textiles).

The European Commission has started work to restrict the use of microplastics that are intentionally added in products through the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals regulation (REACH).

Regarding unintentional release of microplastics, the European Commission is examining options such as labelling, minimum requirements for product design and durability, methods to assess quantities and pathways of microplastics in the environment, funding for targeted research and innovation.

The UK Government has brought in Microbeads Regulations applicable in England. I posted earlier about this, and Email Alerts have been sent (if you did not receive an Email Alert, and need the legislation adding to your EHS Legislation and Law Checklists, please let me know).

(4) The EU Plastic Strategy proposes to look into actions to specifically tackle single-use plastic items and other marine litter, including lost or abandoned fishing gear. Preparatory work has started on a legislative initiative on single-use plastics to be tabled by the European Commission, following the approach already used to tackle light-weight plastic bags.

The results of an ongoing public consultation will help determine the measures to be taken. The UK 25-yr environment plan contains proposals on single-use plastics, but not specifically on fishing gear.

(5) A 2015 amendment of the European Packaging and Packaging Directive mandated Member States to address plastic bag use – see article 4(1a) in the Directive itself here. The UK brought in Legislation in all UK jurisdictions (prior to the 2015 Directive amendment being agreed) and recently signalled it would remove the exemptions that were applied in England.

Note : the provisions of article 8a in the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive which relate to the labelling and identification of biodegradable and compostable plastic carrier bags, the implementation period (for Member States) is 18 months from the date of that separate 2017 European instrument.