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EU POP Regulation

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Title: Regulation (EC) No 850/2004 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2004 on persistent organic pollutants and amending Directive 79/117/EEC

1. Issued by / date / date of implementation

European Parliament, Council / 29.04.2004 / 20.05.2004

2. Type of legislation

European Union Regulation, with binding legal force throughout every EU Member State, from its date of effect

3. General purpose

Persistent organic pollutants (POPs) are not easily biodegradable in the environment. They bioaccumulate through the food chain and pose a risk to human health and the environment. These substances are transported far from their sources, beyond national boundaries (transboundary pollution), even in areas where they have never been produced or used.

Due to POPs transboundary migration international action is needed in order to control them. The Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants and the Protocol on POPs to the Convention on Long-Range Transboundary Air Pollution are international regulations already in force not only in the European Union, but in countries all over the world.

The EU POPs Regulation reinforces and supports the provisions of the mentioned documents by stricter measures meant to prohibit or restrict the production, placing on the market or use of substances subject to the Stockholm Convention and/or the Long -Range pollution Protocol. In addition, exemptions from the above convention are limited and improved the management of wastes containing or contaminated by POPs is demanded. The Protocol prescribes measures for intentionally as well as unintentionally produced POPs (e.g. pollutants from combustion processes, like dioxins), and safe handling of stockpiles.

In August 2010, the EU Regulation has been amended by adding more substances to its annexes (see point 7.1) due to the revision of the Stockholm Convention in 2009. The new dangerous chemicals added to the POPs Regulation were already prohibited or restricted in the EU but now certain restrictions go even further in order to comply with the new international agreements.

The Annexes of the Regulation have been amended (see point 7.2)

4. Substitution relevant paragraphs

According to Article 6.2 each Member State has to elaborate an action plan for the implementation of the Regulation with measures to identify, characterize and minimise with a view to eliminating the total releases of POPs.

The action plan shall include measures to promote the development and where appropriate, shall require the use of substitute or modified materials, products and processes to prevent the formation and release of the substances subject to release reduction provisions (listed in Annex III).

Article 10 states that the Commission and the Member States shall promote the exchange of information relevant to the reduction, minimisation or elimination, of the production, use and release of POPs. Apart from information on alternatives, this exchange should also contain information on the economic and social costs of the use of such substances.

5. Assessment of relevance for substitution

A ban and restriction of the most hazardous POPs triggers the search for and use of safer alternatives as chemical or technological substitutes.

It encourages also Member States to support and even request substitution, if feasible.

The Regulation promotes the exchange of information, including that on substitution, not only inside the EU but also with countries worldwide.

With regard to substitution, enterprises have to check if the prohibited substances mentioned in the regulation are part of or contained in their processes or products respectively and have to avoid producing, placing them on the market or using them whether on their own, in preparations (mixtures) or as part of articles. They should search for safer chemical or technological alternatives to replace such substances.

6. Link to the legal text

  • Find the English version here.

7. Further information

7.1 Studies or publications about the legislation or its impact

The report on the application of Regulation (EC) 850/2004 throughout EU Member States can be found here.

7.2 Other relevant legislation

  • Regulation 757/2010 amending Regulation 850/2004 on persistent organic pollutants as regards Annexes I and III can be found here.
  • Regulation 756/2010 amending Regulation 850/2004 on persistent organic pollutants as regards Annexes IV and V can be found here.

Last update: 24.06.2019

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