Directive 2004/42/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 April 2004 on the limitation of emissions of volatile organic compounds due to the use of organic solvents in decorative paints and varnishes and vehicle refinishing products and amending Directive 1999/13/EC ("the Paints Directive") aims to prevent the negative environmental effects of emissions of volatile organic compounds (VOC) from decorative paints and vehicle refinishing products.
The Directive, based on Article 114 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (formerly: Article 95 of the EC Treaty), is a harmonisation directive which aims to ensure the free circulation of goods within the Internal Market.
The products covered by the Paints Directive are paints for use on buildings, their trims and fittings and structures associated to buildings and products for vehicle refinishing. The specific sub-categories of products covered are listed in Annex I of the Paints Directive.
For the decorative paints and varnishes, Annex II A to the Directive sets out two sets of limit values for the maximum contents of VOCs (in grammes per litre of the product ready for use). The first set of limit values applied from 1 January 2007 on. The second, and stricter, set of limit values apply since 1 January 2010.
For vehicle refinishing products, Annex II B to the Directive sets out a single set of limit values for the VOC contents, which apply since 1 January 2007.
According to Article 4 of the Directive the products shall carry a special label when are placed on the market. The label shall indicate (a) the subcategory of the product, as defined in Annex I, and the legal limit value for VOC contents as indicated in Annex II and (b) the maximum content of VOC of the product in its ready to use condition.
Member States shall set up a monitoring programme for the purpose of verifying compliance with the Directive, Article 6, and at regular intervals report the results of the monitoring programme to the Commission. For more information on Member State Reporting, see here.
The Paints Directive has amended the VOC Solvent Emissions Directive through its article 13. The amendment removed a subactivity of "Vehicle Refinishing" ("the coating of road vehicles as defined in Directive 70/156/EEC, or part of them, carried out as part of vehicle repair, conservation or decoration outside of manufacturing installations") from the scope of the VOC Solvents Directive, as the "vehicle refinishing products" fall under the scope of the Paints Directive.
Various studies were performed in preparation of the Directive including: