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Electronics Production | November 12, 2010

EU agree to drop list of priority substances

Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) have agreed to drop demands for a list of priority substances for new restrictions under the RoHS Directive.
IPC - Association Connecting Electronics Industries has vehemently opposed the creation of such a list, calling for science to be the basis of all future RoHS revisions.

"We are extremely pleased by this recent news," says IPC President Dennis McGuirk. "European lawmakers have acknowledged calls by IPC and others for a scientifically based Directive."

The list of four substances for priority assessment, also identified as substancesof very high concern under REACH, was originally proposed by the EU Commission. In June, the Parliament's Environment Committee voted to drastically expand the list to include almost 40 substances. These substances included brominated flame retardants (BFRs), such as Tetrabromobisphenol-A (TBBPA), the most common flame retardant used in printed boards, despite the fact that TBBPA was found to be safe for human health and the environment by both the World Health Organization and the European Commission Scientific Committee on Health and Environmental Risks (SCHER).

"Specifically mentioning entire classes of substances in a priority list would unfairly stigmatize them as being harmful to human health and the environment without a sound scientific basis," explains McGuirk. During the final trialogue meeting, EU Council, Commission and Parliament representatives agreed to mention the four priority substances originally proposed by the Commission in a non-binding recital and not specifically mention BFRs. "IPC is a small player in the worldwide political stage and this is a huge success for our industry," McGuirk adds.

MEPs also dropped their demand for a revised RoHS Directive to contain a ban on nanosilver. In a compromise with member states, MEPs opted for the mention of a future "priority review" of nanosilver. The EU Council, Commission and MEPs also reached a compromise on the open-scope issue agreeing that all products will be covered eight years after the Directive enters into force.

The Belgian presidency is expected to meet with member states and reach an agreement by the week's end. Belgium currently holds the rotating EU Presidency and is responsible for chairing the EU Council.

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