The EU today ratified the Stockholm Convention on
Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs), seen as the most important
global effort to ban the use of toxic chemicals.
European Union legislation already implements all
the provisions of the Convention, which bans pesticides (such
as DDT), industrial chemicals (such as PCBs) and unintentional
by-products of industrial processes (such as dioxin and furans).
By becoming a Party to the Convention, the EU believes it can
now push for its proper global implementation and for the banning
of additional substances.
Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstroem welcomed
ratification as an "important step to rid the world of the
worst man-made substances". She added that the Commission
had already prepared a list of substances for the next generation
of phase-outs, and was waiting for the go-ahead from EU Member
States to submit its list to the Convention.
The ratification does not change the way these
substances are dealt with in the EU as EU law has already been
aligned with the Convention. Regulation 850/2004, which entered
into force 20 May 2004 bans the intentional production, marketing
and use of the substances listed in the Convention so far.
However, so-called "unintentional releases"
remain a problem. They include dioxin which can be produced through
incomplete combustion, and PCBs - industrial chemicals - which
can be released if PCB-containing equipment is not handled and
disposed properly. These pollutants are subject to a specific
ten-year strategy adopted in 2001 as well as other EU legislation.