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Article related to: PIC
Latest developments under the Rotterdam Convention on PIC
In spring 2019, more than 1 400 government officials and observers from over 180 countries gathered in Geneva, Switzerland for two weeks of back-to-back meetings during the Conferences of the Parties (COP) to the Basel, Rotterdam and Stockholm conventions. The COP to the Rotterdam Convention reached decisions, which will also have an impact on how the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation is administered in the EU.
The Rotterdam Convention provides a framework for exchanging information and making informed decisions on the trade of certain hazardous pesticides and industrial chemicals. The convention is implemented throughout the EU by the PIC Regulation.
Discussions at the COP to the Rotterdam Convention centred on the listing of seven additional chemicals and on a proposal to add a new annex on compliance procedures and mechanisms. Furthermore, the European Commission, Member States and ECHA presented to non-EU countries how the Convention is implemented by the EU. This gave the attendees a chance to discuss challenges when dealing with information provided by the EU.
Two chemicals added to Annex III
One pesticide, phorate (EC 206-052-2, CAS 298-02-2) and one industrial chemical, hexabromocyclododecane (HBCDD) (EC 247-148-4, CAS 25637-99-4) were added to Annex III to the Convention taking the total number of listed chemicals up to 52.
Annex III contains chemicals that have been banned or severely restricted for health and environmental reasons by two or more Parties to the Convention. The addition of the two chemicals means they are subject to the Prior Informed Consent (PIC) procedure through which countries can decide whether to accept future imports of these chemicals.
Under the EU PIC Regulation, HBCDD is already listed in part 1 of Annex V and is, therefore, subject to an export ban from the EU.
In contrast, phorate is not yet listed under the PIC Regulation. It is expected to be listed in spring 2020, which means that from then on, potential EU exporters dealing with this substance will need to notify the exports of the substance and receive explicit consents before starting their exports.
In addition to these two chemicals, five other substances were recommended to be added to Annex III, but their inclusion was delayed as consensus was not reached. They will be discussed again at the next COP meeting in 2021. These five substances included:
- two pesticides (acetochlor (EC 251-899-3, CAS 34256-82-1) and carbosulfan (EC 259-565-9, CAS 55285-14-8));
- two severely hazardous pesticide formulations (paraquat dichloride (EC 217-615-7, CAS 1910-42-5) and fenthion (EC 200-231-9, CAS 55-38-9)); and
- one industrial chemical (chrysotile asbestos (EC 601-650-3, CAS 12001-29-5)).
Although not added to Annex III to the Rotterdam Convention, these substances are already listed under Parts 1 and 2 of Annex I to the PIC Regulation, so the delay does not change EU exporters’ obligations as they already need to notify the exports and receive explicit consents following PIC rules.
Adoption of a new annex
To improve the procedures and mechanisms on compliance with the Rotterdam Convention, the conference adopted a new annex that establishes a compliance mechanism, including a compliance committee.
The committee will assess the difficulties facing Parties to the Convention in fulfilling their obligations and can propose measures to tackle compliance issues, such as:
- Offering further support, including access to finances, technical assistance and capacity-building, where appropriate;
- Providing advice regarding future compliance;
- Requesting Parties to provide updates on their efforts to comply;
- Issuing statements of concern regarding current or possible future non-compliance; or
- Making cases of non-compliance public.
As such, the committee will be able to look at how efficiently the EU is implementing its obligations under the convention.
Feedback on the implementation of the PIC Regulation
The discussions between ECHA, Commission representatives and other Parties made it clear that there is a need to find ways to enable non-EU countries to make the best use of the exchange of information and communication on hazardous substances exported from the EU.
Authorities in importing countries emphasised that the lack of accuracy of importer details in certain EU PIC export notifications prevents them from contacting importers to check their identity, activities and capability to handle PIC substances.
Another issue raised was the non-existence of national legislation in many non-EU countries regulating imported PIC substances. This makes it challenging for authorities to have a sufficiently solid legal or regulatory basis for accepting or denying explicit consent requests from the EU. Even in cases where the legal basis is robust enough, the complexity and length of procedures in some non-EU countries can sometimes be problematic.
ECHA has already taken measures to raise the awareness of EU exporters on the importance of providing sound importer contact details in the export notifications through the ePIC tool.
Text by Paul Trouth
Published on: 12 September 2019
Top image: © Pixabay/Steve Howard
Updated on: 13 September 2019. The paragraph starting with "Under the EU PIC Regulation, HBCDD is already listed in part 2 of Annex I and is, therefore, already subject to export notification and explicit consent procedures when it is being exported from the EU." was corrected to state "Under the EU PIC Regulation, HBCDD is already listed in part 1 of Annex V and is, therefore, subject to an export ban from the EU".
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Committee for Risk Assessment:
25-28 November 2019 and
3-5 December 2019
Committee for Socio-Economic
26-28 November 2019 and
3-5 December 2019
Member State Committee:
9-11 December 2019
3-7 February 2020 (tentative)
Biocidal Products Committee:
10-11 December 2019
Management Board meeting:
12-13 December 2019