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Commission Communication on endocrine disruptors

Commission Communication on endocrine disruptors

Towards a comprehensive European Union framework on endocrine disruptors

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Objectives

The EU's strategic approach - based on the precautionary principle - aims at:

  • minimising overall exposure of humans and the environment to endocrine disruptors
  • developing a thorough research basis for effective decision-making
  • promoting dialogue and allowing all stakeholders to be heard and to work together

Context

Almost 20 years after the Community strategy for endocrine disruptors this issue remains a global challenge and a source of concern for many EU citizens.

Significant progress has been achieved over the past two decades and the EU is today recognised as one of the global leaders in dealing with these chemicals.

Yet, it is important to step up the EU's efforts.

The Commission remains committed to protecting EU citizens and the environment from endocrine disruptors.

The communication Towards a comprehensive European Union framework on endocrine disruptors outlines the European Commission’s strategic approach to deal with these substances in the future and announces a number of concrete actions to be implemented across policy areas.

The European Commission is also committed to stepping up the implementation of existing policies on endocrine disruptors.

 

Next Steps

Fitness Check

The European Commission will take a cross-cutting look at the approach to endocrine disruptors' assessment and management in a broad range of legislation. 

The goal is to analyse the coherence of the different approaches to this topic, identify possible gaps and synergies and assess their collective impact on human health and the environment.

General information on the Fitness check activities can be found in the following documents:

The Fitness Check includes two public consultations, notably a public consultation (designed from a citizen’s perspective) and a stakeholder consultation (designed for stakeholders and experts):

The goal is to finalise the Fitness Check in 2020.

 

Annual Forum

The European Commission will organise a forum on endocrine disruptors on an annual basis.

The first one was held on 8 November 2019.

This forum brought together scientists, policy makers from different EU countries as well as interested parties for an exchange of knowledge, to identify challenges and build cooperation mechanisms.

The first meeting of the forum included:

  • Presentation of the progress made on the Fitness Check and collection of feedback
  • Presentation of projects funded in the framework of Horizon 2020
  • Presentation of ongoing work performed at the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) regarding test methods informing about substances with (possible) endocrine disruptor properties
  • A stakeholder discussion on their experience with the current regulatory situation on endocrine disruptors and a discussion on in the inclusion of endocrine disruptors in the international system of classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS).
  • Presentation of the initiatives of some EU countries

 

Initiatives and activities

Actions by area

Support to Research

In the past decades, science on endocrine disruption has advanced significantly and progress has been reported in scientific publications by the European Commission and by EU agencies, namely the Joint Research Centre (JRC), the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) and the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)

Advance has also been made in the context of activities co-ordinated by the European Commission. Since 1999, the European Union's Framework Programmes for Research and Technological Development have allowed to fund over 50 relevant projects for an amount of over €150 million from the EU.

These projects have improved our understanding of the endocrine mechanism of action, the identification of adverse effects on human health and wildlife from exposure to endocrine disruptors, and the development of tools for identification of endocrine disruptors and exposure assessment.

The Commission allocated further €50 million under Horizon 2020, allowing the funding of eight projects on new testing methods for endocrine disruptors.

In addition to research funded under Horizon 2020, a special effort was made in recent years to further improve the availability of test guidelines for identification of endocrine disruptors and address the testing weaknesses identified at EU and international level, under the auspices of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development.

However, knowledge gaps still exist and reliable testing is necessary to identify endocrine disruptors. Therefore, it's very important to continue supporting the establishment of a thorough research basis for effective policy-making.

Up-to-date scientific evidence

In its future framework programme for research and innovation, Horizon Europe, the Commission will continue to ensure the necessary support to research on protecting citizens and environment from exposure to harmful chemicals, including endocrine disruptors, building on the work under the current framework programme Horizon 2020.

Several proposed research areas across Horizon Europe are very relevant to endocrine disruptors, including:

  • further development of hazard assessment, risk assessment and management of chemicals
  • elimination of substances of concern in the production and end-of-life phases & support to the development of safe substitutes
  • research on eco-innovation to prevent environmental pollution from hazardous substances and chemicals of emerging concern

International Cooperation

The European Commission actively cooperates with several institutions and countries and will step up its support to relevant international organisations, notably to:

The European Commission will also explore possibilities for the inclusion of endocrine disruptors in the existing international system for classification of chemicals.