By Lisa M. Campbell, James V. Aidala, and Lisa R. Burchi
On March 2, 2015, European Union (EU) Ministers approved a Directive previously approved by the European Parliament with regard to genetically modified organisms (GMO). EU Directive 2010/0208, entitled Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 2001/18/EC as regards the possibility for the Member States to restrict or prohibit the cultivation of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in their territory, will allow individual Member States to determine whether they will allow, ban, or otherwise restrict the cultivation of GMOs, even in cases where the EU has authorized use of a GMO following the European Food Safety Authority’s (EFSA) assessment of the risks to health and the environment.
Specifically, the Directive provides: “a Member State may adopt measures restricting or prohibiting the cultivation in all or part of its territory of a GMO, or of a group of GMOs defined by crop or trait, once authorised in accordance with Part C of this Directive or with Regulation (EC) No 1829/2003, provided that such measures are in conformity with Union law, reasoned, proportional and non-discriminatory and, in addition, are based on compelling grounds.” The grounds stated include those related to:
* Environmental policy objectives;
* Town and country planning;
* Land use;
* Socio-economic impacts;
* Avoidance of GMO presence in other products without prejudice to Article 26a;
* Agricultural policy objectives; and
* Public policy.
A Member State also can seek to have all or part of its territory excluded from the geographical scope during the authorization procedure for a GMO.
The passage of this Directive is the culmination of years of negotiations between EU Member States that have disagreed over the cultivation of GMOs in their territories. The new rules, which will allow EU countries to opt-out from otherwise approved EU GMOs, are sure to be controversial as Member States, industry, farmers, and the public work out details related to the potentially non-scientific grounds that a particular Member State relies upon in restricting or banning use of a GMO, and as Member States develop measures that allowed GMOs must take to avoid “possible cross-border contamination.”
The legislation will enter into force following its publication in the Official Journal of the EU, which is expected in Spring 2015.
As various members of the EU continue to oppose production of GMO crops, these policies will remain trade irritants to the U.S. and other countries where GMO crops have been widely adopted. This comes as trade negotiations are ongoing and the EU allowance of trade barriers based on the “precautionary principle” remains a major point of disagreement between the EU and the U.S. (with its reliance on “science-based risk assessment policies”). This latest development, which further allows EU Member States to reject GMO crops under various criteria, will not make resolving any current or future trade disagreements any easier.
By Lynn L. Bergeson
Not a moment too soon, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) released a useful and clearly written Practical Guide on Biocidal Products Regulation, ECHA-14-B-19-EN. ECHA is the European Union (EU) agency tasked with implementing the Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR), along with other EU chemical laws and regulations. Adopted in 2012, the BPR revised the Biocidal Products Directive and imposes requirements on producers of active substances and biocidal products. Starting on September 1, 2013, all legal entities producing active ingredients or biocidal products available in the EU are required to obtain an approval for each active substance in the biocidal product and an authorization for the biocidal product itself. The Guide provides a “how to” comply with the BPR to “help companies to better fulfill their obligations and tasks under the BPR.” The Guide is organized into sections and explains the obligations imposed on regulated entities, who is responsible for the obligations, what are the relevant timelines and the deadlines, which are the information requirements and procedures to follow, and the expected results of the process. The Guide also highlights the exceptions and cases for some of the processes, and lists the relevant fees for each obligation.
The Guide contains the following chapters:
■ Approval of active substance;
■ Article 95: list of active substances and suppliers;
■ Technical equivalence;
■ National authorizations;
■ Mutual recognition;
■ Renewal of national authorization and authorizations subject to mutual recognition;
■ Union authorization;
■ Simplified authorizations;
■ Changes of biocidal products;
■ Data sharing; and
■ Appeals (on ECHA decisions).
The following additional chapters are expected to be published at a later date:
■ Renewal of approval of active substance;
■ Review of an approval of active substance; and
■ Research and development.
By Lynn L. Bergeson and Christopher R. Bryant
On February 10, 2015, the European Union’s (EU) chief negotiator on the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP) agreement released the EU’s initial proposal for the “legal text” of the all-important regulatory cooperation chapter. The text was tabled for discussion with the United States in the negotiating round on February 6, 2015, and released to the public shortly thereafter. The text of the final agreement will be a result of negotiations between the EU and U.S. Among the 16 “Articles” in the chapter is Article 14-Establishment of the Regulatory Cooperation Body,” or RCB, to monitor and facilitate the implementation of the provisions in the TTIP chapter on regulatory cooperation. While short on details, the tone and general content of the chapter is encouraging. The EU’s initial draft contains two sets of proposals: one on good regulatory practices, including transparency, impact assessment, stakeholder participation, and how to make them operational, and another on steps to reinforce and make more effective current cooperation on types of legislation and regulatory initiatives that have a significant impact on EU-U.S. trade or investment. The EU Commission also released on February 10 a document titled TTIP and Regulation: An Overview. The document includes a section on horizontal provisions, including a section on sanitary and phytosanitary measures, and a section on sectoral provisions, including “chemicals.” The documents are available at http://trade.ec.europa.eu/doclib/press/index.cfm?id=1230#regulatory-cooperation.
By Lisa R. Burchi
The European Commission (EC) Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed has issued a guidance document entitled Draft Guidance Document on the Interpretation of the Transitional Measures for the Data Requirements for Chemical Active Substances and Plant Protection Products according to Regulation (EU) No. 283/2013 and Regulation (EU) No. 284/2013. Following the adoption in 2009 of Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009 concerning the placing of plant protection products (PPP), additional regulations were adopted to establish the necessary data requirements for active substances and PPPs. In 2013, Regulation (EU) No. 283/2013 (amended by Regulation (EU) No. 1136/2014) updated the data requirements for active substances, while Regulation (EU) No. 284/2013 updated data requirements for products. These Regulations include transitional measures to explain when certain applications can rely upon former data requirements and when the updated data requirements must be satisfied.
The Guidance provides two charts describing the transitional measures for: (1) applications for approval, renewal, or approval or amendment of approval of Active Substances; and (2) applications for authorization, renewal of authorization, or amendment of authorization of Plant Protection Products. Each chart describes the type of application at issue and the resulting data requirements. For authorization applications, the Guidance divides the types of applications and resulting data requirements into four active substances categories: (1) AIR-2 active substances; (2) AIR-3 active substances/substances not yet renewed; (3) new active substances; and (4) mixtures.
The Guidance was developed to assist EU Member States in consistently applying and interpreting these transitional measures. Many of the data requirement decisions depend on the type of active substances and whether an application is submitted before or after December 31, 2015, so companies considering or planning to submit applications should review the Guidance carefully to determine what data requirements may be applicable.
By Lisa R. Burchi
On January 27, 2015, the European Union (EU) Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed agreed to a proposed list of 77 pesticide active substances to be classified as Candidates for Substitution (CFS). The draft list of CFS is available online. A Question and Answer (Q&A) document regarding the CFS list is available online. Additional information regarding the proposed list is also available online.
This list is an important and long-awaited development under the Plant Protection Product (PPP) Regulation (EC) No. 1107/2009. The Standing Committee clarifies that the CFS active substances are not banned and that approved CFS active substances will remain on the EU market, although there are potentially significant consequences for those listed active substances. Most challenging is the requirement that Member States do the following for new applications for authorization of PPPs containing CFS active substances that are submitted after August 1, 2015: (1) conduct a comparative assessment when evaluating an application for authorization for a PPP containing an active substance approved as a CFS; and (2) not authorize or restrict the use of a PPP containing a CFS for use on a particular crop where the comparative assessment weighing up the risks and benefits demonstrates that safer alternatives exist. In addition, substances not evaluated by the Standing Committee (e.g., substances approved after January 1, 2013) can be identified as a CFS under Article 24 of the PPP Regulation. In those cases, any approval will be limited to a maximum of seven years, compared to 10 or 15 years for other active substances.
The next step will be review and adoption of the CFS list by the European Commission, and then publication of the list as a Commission Regulation in the Official Journal.
By Lisa M. Campbell and Lisa R. Burchi
On January 13, 2015, the Court of Justice (Grand Chamber) of the European Union (EU) overturned a judgment of the General Court of the European Union (General Court) in Stichting Natuur en Milieu and Pesticide Action Network Europe v. Commission.
The case concerned the non-governmental organizations’ (NGO), the Plaintiffs, interest in having the European Commission review Regulation (EC) 149/2008 amending Regulation (EC) 396/2005 of the European Parliament and of the European Council by establishing Annexes II, III, and IV setting maximum residue levels (MRL) for pesticides in or on certain products. In a June 14, 2012, decision, the General Court found that the European Commission was erroneous when it refused the NGOs’ request to review internally its regulation and found that the EU’s Aarhus Regulation 1367/2006 (setting forth how EU institutions would apply the Aarhus Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters) conflicted, in part, with Article 9(3) of the Convention in that it too narrowly limited the concept of an “administrative act” and the ability of the public to have access to administrative or judicial procedures to challenge acts by public authorities that contravene provisions of national law related to the environment. The European Commission and the European Council appealed the General Court’s decision, arguing in part that the Aarhus Regulation was not incompatible with the Aarhus Convention. In the January 13, 2015, decision, the Court of Justice agreed with the European Commission and the European Council, stating: “It follows from paragraph 47 of this judgment that Article 9(3) of the Aarhus Convention lacks the clarity and precision required for that provision to be properly relied on before the EU judicature for the purposes of assessing the legality of Article 10(1) of Regulation No 1367/2006.” This decision will have an impact on NGOs’ rights to seek review of EU environmental acts and, potentially, other pending cases brought by NGOs invoking rights under the Aarhus Regulations.