Meeting in Brussels, on 22 December 2009, EU environment ministers held their first preliminary, non-conclusive, debate on the review of the directive on marketing biocides and biocide products (COM(2009/67 - proposal to revise Directive 98/8/EC). There was no strong opposition to the proposal at this stage but several delegations felt it important to keep a national eye on authorisation procedures. The dossier, which is at the first reading stage (co-decision procedure), has been referred to experts.

As an introduction to the debate, the Swedish Presidency had asked three questions requiring delegations to voice their opinion on the possibility of introducing a centralised authorisation procedure, on the integration of exclusion criteria into the new regulation and finally on extending the scope of the existing regulation to include products and materials that have been treated with biocide products.

Under current legislation, EU member states can authorise the products and then those who have a demand for the products can then attempt to gain mutual recognition in other member states. The Commission is proposing to complete this procedure by adding the possibility of introducing authorisation of these products at European level with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the body responsible for authorising both the substance and products. Initially, this centralised authorisation could be granted to products containing new active substances and low risk products with the possibility of extending these categories after 2023. Authorisation for all other products will be the responsibility of member states. As a rule, no member states are opposed to this system but many of them (including Belgium, Ireland, Slovenia and Spain) asked for it to be optional and limited, at first, to low risk products. Several delegations also insisted that payment demanded by business be kept reasonable so as not to penalise small and medium-sized...

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