Electromagnetic fields

EU action

EU action on electromagnetic fields is based on the Council Recommendation limiting the public's exposure to such fields (0 Hz- 300 GHz).

This Recommendation:

  • proposes a set of basic restrictions & reference levels
  • provides guidance to EU national governments
  • creates a basis for EU legislation on product safety
  • calls on the Commission to regularly review any effects electromagnetic fields may have on health.

Restrictions and reference levels proposed by the Recommendation are based on guidelines from the International Commission on Non-Ionizing Radiation Protection (a body of independent scientific experts recognised by the World Health Organization).

In 1999, the EU Scientific Steering Committee endorsed these guidelines and subsequently kept them under review by 4 ad-hoc scientific Opinions  on the potential health effects of EMF exposure.

EU legislative measures

The Recommendation serves as a reference for EU rules in other areas:

EU monitoring of potential health effects

The Commission is monitoring new developments in research into the potential health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.

At its request, the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) has so far delivered 5 Opinions that provide periodical reviews of the scientific evidence on the health effects of exposure to electromagnetic fields.

These scientific opinions have not provided any scientific justification for revising the exposure limits (basic restrictions and reference levels) under Council Recommendation 1999/519/EC. However, they acknowledge that basic data for evaluating some risks is still limited, especially for long-term, low-level exposure. This means further research is needed.

The latest SCENIHR opinion, based on over 700 studies - mostly conducted after 2009 - is now available.

The Commission has also summarised several SCENIHR opinions on subjects including electromagnetic fields for non-specialists. These are available in 4 languages.

Action by the European Parliament

Parliament has adopted resolutions on electromagnetic fields and regularly sends written questions to the Commission.

Action by the European Economic & Social Committee

The Committee (an EU advisory body) recently produced an own-initiative Opinion on electromagnetic hypersensitivity.

Stakeholder Dialogue Group

This met 4 times in 2011 to identify the main issues for the various stakeholders and to make appropriate recommendations. For more information, see the minutes.

The most recent meeting was held in Athens in March 2014 at the Workshop on electromagnetic fields and health effects: from science to policy and public awareness.