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Wednesday, 12 July 2017

EU Commission: Remarks by Vice-President Dombrovskis at the ECOFIN press conference

Remarks by Vice-President Dombrovskis at the ECOFIN press conference

European Commission - Speech - [Check Against Delivery] Brussels, 11 July 2017 Thank you, Toomas! Honourable colleagues, let me start by wishing a lot of success to the Estonian Presidency! Today we've heard the presentation of the Presidency's priorities, which we support.

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Carcinogens or mutagens at work: Council sets new exposure limits

On 11 July 2017, the Council's Permanent Representatives Committee approved the provisional agreement reached with the European Parliament on 28 June on the directive protecting workers from exposure to carcinogens or mutagens in the workplace. 

By setting limits for carcinogens and mutagens this agreement helps tackle the primary cause of work-related deaths in the EU. The aim is to help save up to 100 000 lives over the next 50 years. 

The directive proposes to set exposure limits for a further 11 carcinogens in addition to those covered by the existing 2004 directive. These are: respirable crystalline silica dust, 1,2-epoxypropane, 1,3-butadiene, 2-nitropropane, acrylamide, certain chromium (VI) compounds, ethylene oxide, o-toluidine, refractory ceramic fibres, bromoethylene and hydrazine. 

The directive also revises the limits for vinyl chloride monomer and hardwood dusts in the light of more recent scientific data.  

There will be minimum requirements for eliminating and reducing all carcinogens and mutagens. Employers will also have to identify and assess risks to workers who are associated with exposure to specific carcinogens (and mutagens), and must prevent exposure where risks exist.  

The main changes to the Commission proposal are the following: 

  • Reprotoxic substances: the Commission will have to assess the possibility of including reprotoxic substances in the scope of the directive by the first quarter of 2019 at the latest, and may present a legislative proposal on the matter.
  • Chromium VI: there will be an exposure limit value of 0.010 mg/m3 for a period of 5 years after the date of transposition of the directive; after that period a limit of 0.005 mg/m3 will apply. There is a derogation for welding or plasma-cutting processes or similar work processes that generate fumes: for them the exposure limit value is 0.025 mg/m3 until 5 years after the transposition date and after that period the limit will be 0.005 mg/m3.
  • Hardwood dust: there will be an exposure limit value of 3 mg/m3 for 5 years after the entry into force of the directive and thereafter a limit of 2 mg/m3.
  • Respiratory crystalline silica dust: the Commission committed itself to evaluating the need to modify the limit value for respirable crystalline silica dust as part of the next evaluation of the implementation of the directive.
  • Health surveillance: the doctor or authority responsible for the health surveillance of workers within member states may indicate that health surveillance must continue after the end of exposure for as long as they consider it necessary to safeguard the health of the worker concerned.

 Next steps 

The new directive will formally be adopted by the Council at a later stage.  

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6th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum pushes for media freedom, EU enlargement, adequate migration policy and empowering women

The EESC held the 6th Western Balkans Civil Society Forum in Sarajevo on 10-11 July. Participants adopted a Final Declaration calling for increased media freedom, opening the doors of the Western Balkans to EU enlargement, the implementation of migration policies and increased employment opportunities, and working on women's rights. EESC President Georges Dassis opened the Forum by saying "The goal that everybody should strive for is a lasting peace among countries that went through terrible times not so long ago, and EU accession is there to anchor peace in their relations". He added: "European integration is...

Related Themes: External Relations - Enlargement/EUNeighbours

Related Sub Themes: Western Balkans

Related EESC Figures: EESC President

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EFSA reviews safety of glutamates added to food

EFSA reviews safety of glutamates added to food


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Public consultation: update of guidance on health claims related to antioxidants, oxidative damage and cardiovascular health

Public consultation: update of guidance on health claims related to antioxidants, oxidative damage and cardiovascular health


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