Check against delivery
Ladies and Gentlemen,
I am very pleased to welcome you to this conference to discuss endocrine disruptors and the questions around their identification.
Starting with my hearing in front of the European Parliament Members the endocrine disruption has been a very hot topic for me.
Since the beginning of my mandate I have been questioned on the alleged delay of the Commission to take decisions on the matter.
I stood in front of MEPs once again taking questions and addressing the issue just earlier this year.
It is a hot issue. It generates a lot of interest in the society, media, the scientific community, medical professionals, civil society and business sector in the EU and worldwide. There are so many divergent opinions, confrontations, rumours, interpretations and confusion around it that I could choose only one road to go – the road of transparency.
Therefore I am particularly glad to deliver on my promise to have an open debate involving all the actors.
As you may know, we have already had three roundtables:
- the first with stakeholders;
- the second with representatives from the European Union and European Economic Area Member States; and
- the third with Members of European Parliament across the political spectrum.
The roundtables led to today’s conference which has a very clear logic.
During the course of the day we will aim to cover a number of aspects of concern. We will address the process that we have applied and the progress we have made so far as regards to the impact assessment. We will also speak about the methodology. You will hear more about different pieces of EU legislation in force today, for example in the Regulations on plant protection products, biocidal products, chemicals (under REACH), cosmetics and the water framework Directive that already protect Europeans from endocrine disrupting chemicals.
Our exchange of views will be carefully considered in the context of the on-going assessment.
We are not working behind closed doors. We are doing our best to be open and transparent. Reports from the roundtables are public. Today's event is being web-streamed.
I was particularly glad to learn that more than 280 participants have registered for today's event - Members of the EU Parliament, representatives of Member States, NGOs, trade associations, public authorities, journalists, private companies, scientists and interested parties from third countries. This promises interesting and lively debates where conflicting opinions will meet.
This is understandable because endocrine disruption is a fairly recent way at looking at the toxicity of chemicals and there are many diverging views on important points within the scientific community and regulators worldwide.
These diverging views and evaluations were also reflected in the work of the previous Commission - among different Directorates-General. However, to assess these diverging opinions as a fight of enemies against other enemies seems beyond the pale for me.
I have read a recent report by one of the stakeholders which discloses some documents of the previous Commission. It claims, and here I quote ''EU Commission Health Services joined forces with economic DGs (..) crushed not only their enemy - DG Environment but also the entire new EU policy on endocrine disruptors''.
I would like to avoid conspiracy theories. My services are not highway robbers with knifes in their hands. This is why we need transparency.
This is why we opened the conference to all opinions and we are not afraid of any uncomfortable questions.
For me, this conference is the momentum for pioneering which is not an easy task.
I also strongly believe that without trust it is impossible to be pioneers.
We have to rejoice that the European Union decided once again to be the worldwide regulatory pioneer and trendsetter with the goal of making sure that human health and the environment are protected.
Now I would like to clarify that the way we will deal issue of endocrine disruption is part of a collegial process. It involves all the relevant Commission services and they will need to play their role to the full until the final decision is taken by the College.
The development of the EU Strategy on endocrine disruptors is led by my colleague, Commissioner Vella.
The Directorate General that I am responsible for – DG SANTE is in charge of one of the elements - the impact assessment. The Services of many of my fellow Commissioners – including Commissioners Hogan, Moedas and Bienkowska – are closely involved in the process.
Finally, a collegial decision will be taken. But let me repeat that I am in charge of health therefore my decisions on the endocrine disrupters will be driven by the principle of the protection of health of the EU citizens.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Setting new criteria for endocrine disruptors is a priority on which I am committed to deliver:
- Firstly, because there is a question of health concerns.
- Secondly, because we have legal obligations to fulfil.
I undertake to deliver on this important file as quickly as possible. But we cannot put the cart before the horse.
Without deep and rigorous assessment we are all prisoners of our emotions.
We must avoid prejudice and take away doubts.
This is why I believe carrying out an impact assessment is the right approach. The Commission services are now taking the necessary steps to prepare an evidence-based and informed Commission decision.
Rigorous impact assessment requires rigorous work. My services are working hard to complete the assessment as soon as possible.
The impact assessment has to answer many questions. Health being the first one.
But our decision could also have significant impacts on environment and the economy.
I will leave it to my colleagues to explain the organisation of today.
But before, let me conclude by saying that I hope that this setting will provide the opportunity for an extensive discussion. I also expect that it will give rise to information that we will be able to use as we continue with this challenging exercise.