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On 18 May 2017, the EU together with several Member States ratified the Minamata Convention on Mercury, thereby triggering its entry into force.

The text of the Council Decision on the conclusion of the Minamata Convention on Mercury can be found here once published in the Official Journal of the European Union.

More information: press release and questions and answers.

Minamata Convention

Emissions of mercury and mercury compounds can affect areas located thousands of km away from the sources mainly via transportation throughout the atmosphere and the contamination of fish destined for human consumption.

Therefore, action by the international community was necessary.

This took place under UNEP, the United Nations Environment Programme, and led to the signing in 2013 of the Minamata Convention on Mercury.

For details see the UNEP website.

The Convention addresses the whole life-cycle of mercury with the objective to protect human health and the environment from anthropogenic emissions of mercury and mercury compounds, in particular, by:

  • setting restrictions on international trade of mercury;
  • prohibiting the manufacture, import and export of a wide range of mercury-added products;
  • foreseeing prohibitions or operating conditions for several manufacturing processes using mercury, such as the production of acetaldehyde in which mercury or mercury compounds are used as catalyst,
  • discouraging new uses of mercury in products and industrial processes;
  • requiring that measures be taken to reduce mercury emissions from artisanal and small-scale gold mining and industrial activities, including through the use of best available techniques;
  • requiring that interim storage of mercury and management of mercury waste occur in an environmentally sound manner.

Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury by the EU: Preparatory work.