EU Rules on Food Safety

On 2 March 2020, the European Commission commenced a consultation process with all stakeholders aimed at reviewing the existing legal framework on food irradiation. The goal of the European Commission is two-fold. On one hand, the European Commission wants to assess whether the free movement of irradiated foodstuff within the internal market still works. On the other hand, the European Commission wants to assess whether the current rules ensure a high degree of protection of human health and the environment.

Currently, EU rules on food irradiation date back to 1991. The legislation focuses above all on defining the process of irradiation. They also specify the limits to the irradiation process while providing the grounds when irradiation may be authorized. In fact, there is an EU list of food and food ingredients for irradiation that includes a wide variety of products. In addition, EU law imposes labeling requirements when food and food ingredients have undergone irradiation. Last, it stipulates that EU countries must have uniform standards to detect irradiated food. The latter created by the European Committee for Standardization.

The start of the consultation signals the beginning of the process to assess whether EU legislation on food irradiation is fit for purpose. All views must be received by May 25, 2020. The process is especially important for food business operators in general and suppliers of services to irradiation facilities and manufacturers of irradiation equipment and materials in particular.

EU to regulate endocrine disruptors

On 7 November 2018, the European Commission adopted a Communication on endocrine disruptors. The Communication lays the groundwork for potential, new regulatory measures that will address endocrine disruptors across different areas in the EU, and beyond.

Currently, the EU legal framework on endocrine disruptors is incoherent. First, different approaches apply to different sectors. Second, different regulatory approaches exist in different pieces of EU legislation that regulate endocrine disruptors. Against this backdrop, the EU will launch a process to assess whether existing EU legislation on endocrine disruptors delivers its overall objectives. In addition, it will set a common definition for the identification of endocrine disruptors. The review and expected new legislation shall provide more coherence.

The European Commission will consult with all stakeholders as it reviews and prepares to revamp the rules on endocrine disruptors. It will also rely on output from stakeholders as it sets out to include endocrine disruptors in the existing international system for classification of chemicals.

EU to review air quality rules

The public consultations on the robustness of the EU air quality legislations, comprised of the two Ambient Air Quality Directives as well as of the Implementing Decision and the Commission Directive have recently been finalized.

The Directives had established European standards for a series of pollutants and aimed on ensuring their comprehensive and harmonized implementation in all member states. The review of the Directives is building upon the implementation experience in the EU Member States aiming to consolidate the EU legislative and regulatory framework. In addition to the entry into force of the new National Emission Ceiling Directive the EU is making decisive steps to achieve its 2030 emission reduction commitments.

The new legislation is expected to enshrine the stringency of the policy’s health objectives to reduce the impacts of atmospheric pollution to public health and reflect the cost of pollution to public budgets. While a debate on the rationalization of national public health budgets is expected to be triggered thereof, the effects of the stringent regulations are expected to be felt mainly on the EU agriculture, transport, shipping and energy production, especially in units that are beyond the urban limits. The above sectors are expected to bear the burden of timely and accurate compliance to the reviewed legislation.

New EU cybersecurity certification framework

The European Commission has recently recommended a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks.

Since its recommendation, 24 EU Member States have completed the first step and submitted the national risk assessment. The assessments will contribute to an EU-wide risk evaluation, with support of the European Commission and the European Union Agency for Cybersecurity (ENISA), which is estimated to be completed by October 1, 2019. On this basis, Member States within the NIS Cooperation Group will agree on a set of mitigating measures that can be used at a national and EU level. In other words, a certification framework. The EU cybersecurity certification framework is expected to provide EU-wide standards and assess levels of security of products or services classifying them into three categories of security assurance i.e. basic, substantial, high.

The European Commission and ENISA remain to agree on the mandate and scope of the certifications, which will be adopted by the European Commission through implementing acts. Given the relevance of trust and security for the functioning of the Digital Single Market, it will be necessary to monitor the upcoming EU-wide risk assessment as well as negotiations concerning a common EU approach to the security of 5G networks.

Germany Bans Diesel Cars

Banning diesel cars from German cities is a legitimate tool to improve air quality and protect public health according to Germany’s Federal Administrative Court. Precisely how many vehicles might be affected by the ban remains unclear, since diesel technology has long been the locomotive of the global automotive industry. Debate on the excessive amount of nitrogen oxides in the air has prevailed for years but the political dimensions of the issue started only recently.
While the ban in Germany will be gradual, it entails tremendous pressure on an industry that has already burned its subsidies options. Additionally, it requires huge effort and resources to enforce the ban from the authorities. The judgment could trigger a domino effect not only in Germany, but throughout the whole Europe, with cities like Rome, Paris, Madrid, London and Athens already heading in this direction.

While everybody is puzzled on how the ban will be enforced, the industry has stepped up its efforts to adapt. Additionally, the European Commission is considering the possibilities of a pan- European approach.

EU to improve road safety

traffic safteyThe European Commission is in the preparatory phase to present new legislative proposals to support technological progress of road vehicles. The aim is to minimize the risk of injury to the vehicle occupants and other road users.

A recent Inception Impact Assessment presented options for a possible update of the 2009 General Safety Regulations as well as the Pedestrian Safety Regulation. Currently, the Commission is collecting views on vehicle safety systems from stakeholders.

There are 19 specific vehicle safety measures under consideration for a possible revision of the regulations. Depending on the findings of the consultation, mandatory features will be imposed on cars, light commercial vehicles, buses, trucks and trailers. Hence, the automotive industry will have to adjust, and comply with the new requirements.