Select Committee on European Scrutiny Seventh Report


COM(01) 256

Draft Council Directive amending for the 23rd time Council Directive 76/769/EEC relating to restrictions on the marketing and use of certain dangerous substances and preparations (classified as carcinogens, mutagens, or toxic to reproduction).

Legal base: Article 95 EC; co-decision; qualified majority voting
Document originated: 14 May 2001
Forwarded to the Council: 14 May 2001
Deposited in Parliament: 20 June 2001
Department: Trade and Industry
Basis of consideration: EM of 20 June and Minister's letter of 20 November 2001
Previous Committee Report: None
To be discussed in Council: No date known
Committee's assessment: Politically important
Committee's decision: Cleared, but further information requested


21.1  Council Directive 76/769/EEC[62] seeks to protect human health and the environment by restricting the use of those dangerous substances and preparations set out in one of its annexes. This prohibition includes category 1 and 2 carcinogens, mutagens, and substances toxic to reproduction, and is applied on the basis of the definition of those substances laid down in Council Directive 67/548/EEC.[63] That definition is regularly updated in the light of technical progress, and, within six months of any such amendments being made, the Commission has to submit proposals to add the substances in question to those covered by Council Directive 76/769/EEC.

The current proposal

21.2  Earlier amendments to Directive 67/548/EEC in 1998 and 2000 identified a number of new substances as carcinogens, mutagens, or as toxic to reproduction, and the effect of this proposal would be include these in the relevant annex to Directive 76/769/EEC, so as to prohibit their marketing and use within the Community.

The Government's view

21.3  In her Explanatory Memorandum of 20 June 2001, the Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Competition, Consumers and Markets at the Department of Trade and Industry (Miss Melanie Johnson) said that, where there is clear evidence of risk to the consumer — as is the case with this proposal — the UK fully supports action to restrict consumer exposure whenever possible. She also said that, although she was providing an initial Regulatory Impact Assessment, a full Assessment would be supplied after the consultation process, which the Government intended to hold, had taken place.

Minister's letter of 20 November 2001

21.4  We have now received a letter of 20 November 2001 from the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry (Ms Patricia Hewitt), enclosing an amended Regulatory Impact Assessment. However, she makes it clear that this still says very little about the costs of the proposal, though she confirms that a full Assessment will be provided once the consultation exercise with industry and other interested parties has been concluded. We also understand that the proposal is due to come up for adoption by the Council shortly.


21.5  We realise that the addition of substances to those covered by the prohibition on marketing in Council Directive 76/769/EEC is governed by their classification under Council Directive 67/548/EEC as carcinogens, mutagens or as toxic to reproduction; and, where a substance has been classified in this way, we think it right that steps should be taken to control its use. We therefore have no problem with the substance of the current proposal.

21.6  Our only comment relates to the apparent difficulty of providing even a rough estimate of the costs involved, where it seems to us odd that this cannot be done in advance of the outcome of the consultation exercise, and before the proposal has been adopted. Consequently, although we are clearing the document, we would be interested to see the full Regulatory Impact Assessment which the Minister has promised to provide in due course.

62   OJ No. L 262, 27.9.76, p.201. Back

63   OJ No. L 196, 16.8.67, p.1. Back

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Prepared 3 December 2001