MEPs have called for a motion of censure on the European Commission. They say it has failed to comply with its legal obligation to publish scientific criteria for defining endocrine disruptors (EDCs).
A motion of censure means that at least 10% of MEPs have "serious concerns about the way the Commission is obeying the law and handling its responsibility to establish criteria to identify endocrine disruptors," Lisette van Vliet, senior advisor at the Health and Environment Alliance (HEAL), told Chemical Watch.
"In particular, I suspect that their concerns revolve around the way the Commission has continued to perform an impact assessment about the criteria and possible regulatory options, even though the European Court of Justice (ECJ) made it clear that the impact assessment was irrelevant to their duty to establish the criteria by the deadline."
In January the ECJ ruled that the Commission had breached EU law by failing to publish scientific criteria for defining EDCs, as a first step towards reducing exposure to them.
The matter goes back to a March 2013 Resolution, when the European Parliament demanded the Commission act to reduce exposure to the substances.
"The Commission had draft criteria ready in summer 2013, but later maintained it could not use those due to scientific controversy, which the court also found insufficient reason to not fulfil the legally binding deadline," Ms van Vliet said.
'No further excuse'
The current motion was drafted by Piernicola Pedicini, MEP, of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group. The current motion was drafted by Piernicola Pedicini, MEP, of the Europe of Freedom and Direct Democracy Group, and was signed by EFDD, GUE, ENF and NI members.
He told Chemical Watch his reasons for proposing the action were:
- "The Commission cannot pretend to ignore first a Regulation and then a Judgement of the Court of Justice. The Commission cannot invoke any further excuse in delaying the adoption of the scientific criteria."
- "The Commission failed to immediately take measures for the swift adoption of the concerned delegated acts. Why should the Commission be exempt from the observance of the Treaty of which the Commission itself is supposed to be the guardian?"
- "The Commission's loyalty to the industrial and financial lobbies and its supine behaviour dependent on member states is the denial of the institutional architecture of the European Union."
If the motion of censure vote passes, then according to Article 234 of the EU Treaty, the Commission must resign. However, the hurdle for passing such a motion is high, Ms Vliet said.
"It would not be constructive to have the Commission obliged to resign over this issue. But this motion makes clear that some parts of the Commission have chosen to ignore the repeated clear scientific reports and advice on how to identify endocrine disruptors."
The recent meeting in Berlin on endocrine disruptors between scientific experts, hosted by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), "gave a clear outcome in a consensus statement", Ms van Vliet said.
The debate on the motion on censure will take place on 25 May.
"We hope the parliamentary debate in Parliament serves to underline to the Commission that only a straightforward rendition of identification criteria, criteria which do not include potency, and which are not accompanied by any attempt to reintroduce a failed system of risk assessment for pesticides, is acceptable," Ms van Vliet said.
As the next plenary session is a 'mini-session' of 24 hours, the vote should take place during the session from 6-9 June in Strasbourg.
"If carried, the motion does not establish a new obligation. Should the motion not be carried, the Commission still must enforce the Regulation and respect the judgement of the court, as well as the Treaties," Mr Pedicini said.