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Specific chemicals

Specific chemicals

Specific chemicals require additional or tailored legislation due to characteristics that make them different from other chemicals (e.g. relevance of nutrient content and specific pollutants for fertilisers, biodegradability for detergents, traceability and safety for critical chemicals, such as explosives, pyrotechnics, and drug precursors, etc.)

Specific chemicals include:

Fertilisers

Fertilisers are chemical compounds providing nutrients to plants. So-called 'EC fertilisers' are regulated by Regulation (EC) No 2003/2003 on mineral fertilisers and may circulate freely within the EU single market. EC fertilisers comply with fertiliser type designations in the annexes to the regulation. They also guarantee farmers a minimum nutrient content of mineral fertilisers and overall safety, in particular for high nitrogen content ammonium nitrate fertilisers. It is the responsibility of the manufacturer to make sure that a fertiliser labelled as an 'EC Fertiliser' meets the technical and labelling requirements of the Regulation.

The rules for other fertilisers (“national fertilisers”) are currently not harmonised at EU level and are governed by national laws, although mutual recognition applies.

Link to National competent authorities for fertilisers (84 kB)

Upcoming legislation

Proposal for a revised Fertilisers Regulation

The European Commission plans to propose a revision of Regulation (EC) No 2003/2003 to the European Parliament and the Council of the European Union in 2015. This revision aims at simplifying the current Regulation, improving the functioning of the internal market, and extending it to currently non-harmonised products, by establishing EU-wide generic quality and safety criteria, clarifying borderlines with plant protection products, and creating trust in organic and waste-derived fertilising materials. To prepare the revision, the Commission has conducted a number of studies:

Study on the functionality of the Regulation

An evaluation of the Fertilisers Regulation was conducted in 2010 to identify potential areas for improvement. The study also assessed to what extent the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 764/2008 on mutual recognition to national fertilisers is an issue for economic operators and public administration.

Study on fertiliser ingredients

A technical study collected information on the ingredients used for the production of fertilisers in the EU. The study also developed policy options and assessed their technical and legal feasibility in terms of human health and environmental protection, socio-economic impacts, and administrative burden.

Study on the science of plant bio-stimulants

The objectives of this study were to evaluate the scientific robustness of the concept of plant bio-stimulants; identify the substances and materials covered by the term bio-stimulant in the scientific databases; propose a definition based on the modes of action described by the scientific literature; and draw conclusions on the possible future status of bio-stimulants in EU law.

Study on competitiveness of the fertiliser sector

An evaluation of the effects of proposed policy options on competitiveness was conducted. The analysis focused on how policy actions were likely to impact on innovation, cost competitiveness, and the relative competitive position of EU fertiliser producers and farmers

Study on legal framework for plant bio-stimulants and agronomic additives

The study explores several existing regulatory frameworks directly linked to the categories of fertilising additives established by several EU countries. It also examined those indirectly linked EU regulations, as benchmarks for finding a balanced approach for any intended revision of the Fertiliser Regulation. The report examined the data that would be required; the procedures to be established; and the scientific body to be designated. It also assessed the administrative costs associated with this possible future registration approach for plant bio-stimulant and agronomic fertiliser additives.

Call for applications for membership in the expert group on recovery rules for new secondary raw materials

Deadline: 31 May 2016

Detergents

Detergents are products containing soaps or other surfactants intended for washing and cleaning.

Regulation (EC) No 648/2004 on detergents ensures that only detergents with surfactants that are fully biodegradable may be placed on the market. In addition, detergent labels must contain ingredient and dosage information. This is to protect the health of consumers, especially against allergies, and to avoid the over-use of detergents.

In particular, this Regulation harmonises the following rules for placing detergents and surfactants for detergents, on the EU market:

  • the biodegradability of surfactants in detergents
  • restrictions or bans on surfactants on grounds of biodegradability
  • the additional labelling of detergents, including fragrance allergens
  • the information that manufacturers must hold at the disposal of national authorities and medical personnel
  • limitations on the content of phosphates and other phosphorus compounds in consumer laundry detergents and consumer automatic dishwasher detergents.

More on

Explosives

Commercial explosives are essential for quarrying, mining, and infrastructure construction. 'Directive 93/15/EEC (unofficial consolidation) on the harmonisation of the provisions relating to the placing on the market and supervision of explosives for civil uses' harmonises the essential safety requirements for civil explosives, while providing a high level of protection. It also creates an administrative system for the supervision of intra-EU transfers to protect the public from illicit uses.

More on legislation and documents concerning explosives.

Pyrotechnic articles

Pyrotechnic articles are mainly used in automotive restraint systems (airbags and seatbelt tensioners) and fireworks. Directive 2013/29/EU on the harmonisation of the laws of the Member States relating to the making available on the market of pyrotechnic articles:

  • protects consumers by requiring that pyrotechnic articles meet essential safety requirements
  • creates a single market for those articles that meet the essential safety requirements. To demonstrate that their articles comply with the essential safety requirements, manufacturers must have their products assessed by independent testing institutes (notified bodies).

If justified on grounds of public order, security, health, safety or environmental protection, EU countries may restrict or ban the sale of certain types of pyrotechnic articles.

Drug precursors

Drug precursors are chemicals used in the illicit manufacture of drugs such as cocaine, heroin, ecstasy, or methamphetamines. However, many of these chemicals have primarily large and varied legitimate uses, for example in the production of plastics, medicinal products, cosmetics, perfumes, detergents, and aromas. Effective control of the legitimate trade of these chemicals is the best way of fighting their diversion for illicit drug manufacture.

Regulation (EC) No 273/2004 (intra-Union market) and Regulation (EC) No 111/2005 (external trade) lay down harmonised degrees of control for economic operators and professional users, as well as for trade transactions, depending on the sensitivity of the drug precursors concerned. In addition, the regulations create a partnership between authorities and operators to identify diversion attempts.

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