European Commission adopts new Chemicals Strategy towards a toxic-free environment

  • 25 november 2020

Finding the golden mean

With the EU Chemicals Strategy, the European Commission aims to reconcile both (economic) importance of chemicals and the rising public concern over chemicals in our everyday products and environment. This way, the EU wants to ensure chemicals can deliver all their benefits without harming the planet and current and future generations. In order to meet these goals, the EU will simplify and consolidate the legal framework and support industrial innovation to such an extent that safe chemicals become the norm on the EU market and a benchmark worldwide.

Special attention to PFAS

The Chemicals Strategy aims to significantly increase the protection of human health and the environment from harmful chemicals. Key actions include phasing out the most harmful substances from everyday consumer goods, minimising and substituting substances of concern in all products, addressing the combination effect of chemicals (“cocktail effect”), and ensuring that producers and consumers have access to information on chemical content and safe use.

In addition to these flagship initiatives, special attention goes to PFAS, considering the magnitude of the problem and the inherent societal and economic costs.

In this perspective, the European Commission proposes a comprehensive set of actions to address the use of and contamination with PFAS. Those aim to ensure, in particular, that the use of PFAS is phased out in the EU, unless it is proven essential for society.

The Commission will:

  • ban all PFAS as a group in fire-fighting foams as well as in other uses, allowing their use only where they are essential for society;
  • address PFAS with a group approach, under relevant legislation on water, sustainable products, food, industrial emissions, and waste;
  • address PFAS concerns on a global scale through the relevant international fora and in bilateral policy dialogues with third countries;
  • establish an EU-wide approach and provide financial support under research and innovation programmes to identify and develop innovative methodologies for remediating PFAS contamination in the environment and in products;
  • provide research and innovation funding for safe innovations to substitute PFAS under Horizon Europe.

The complete text of the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability can be found here.