Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

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 fertilising products, biodegradability for detergents, traceability and safety for critical chemicals, such as explosives, pyrotechnics, and drug precursors, etc.)

Specific chemicals include

Fertilising products

The current regulation on fertilisers

Fertilisers are chemical compounds providing nutrients to plants. So-called 'EC fertilisers' are regulated by Regulation (EC) No 2003/2003 on 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 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.
This regulation applies almost exclusively to fertilisers from mined or chemically produced, inorganic materials. The manufacturer has the possibility to choose between 

  • applying the regulation and marking their products as ‘EC fertilisers’, which can then move freely in the single market or 
  • applying the national legislation on fertilisers and, in case they intend to place the product on the market of another EU country, make appeal to the mutual recognition rules 

The rules for other fertilising products (such as organic fertilisers) are not harmonised by this regulation. They are governed by national laws and the mutual recognition rules apply

National competent authorities for fertilisers (434 kB)

The new fertilising products regulation 

The fertilising products regulation applies as of 15 July 2022.  
The main elements of the new rules are

  • Opening the single market for more fertilising products: The regulation will provide common rules on safety, quality and labelling requirements for all fertilising products traded across the EU. It will open the market for products which are not currently covered by harmonisation rules, such as organic and organo-mineral fertilisers, soil improvers, inhibitors, plant biostimulants, growing media or blends.
  • Introducing limit values for toxic contaminants in fertilising products: The regulation introduces limits for toxic contaminants for the first time. This will guarantee a high level of soil protection and reduce health and environmental risks while allowing producers to adapt their manufacturing process to comply with the new limits. 
  • Maintaining optional harmonisation: A manufacturer can choose between either applying the new regulation and CE-marking the product or complying with national rules and sell the product to other EU countries based on the mutual recognition rules.

Next steps 

Both the European Commission and the EU countries work on preparing the smooth implementation of the new rules. 
For more details on the already ongoing work on the implementation of the new rules, follow the activity of the fertilising products working group.

More information

Studies

Disclaimer
The views expressed in these documents are purely those of the authors and may not in any circumstances be regarded as stating an official position of the European Commission.
The Commission does not take any responsibility for errors or omissions in these documents.
These documents are not intended for distribution. Neither the European Commission nor any person acting on behalf of the Commission is responsible for the use that might be made of the information in these documents.

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, oil drilling and infrastructure construction. Directive 2014/28/EU harmonises EU country laws covering availability on the market, supervision of explosives for civil uses, and 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 for civil uses.

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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