The European Court annulled an authorisation. Here is what we can learn from it

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Three years ago, the Swedish Government challenged the EU Commission’s decision to grant a company authorisation to use cancer-causing  lead chromates in paint pigments. The use of these toxic paint components has been abandoned for decades in many EU countries, making it obvious that safer substances are both available and commercially viable.

On 7 March 2019, the European Court of Justice ruled in favour of the Swedish Government, revoking the authorisation and deeming it illegal. For the first time, the court looked at the legality of an authorisation and more specifically on how to assess the availability of safer alternatives.

Even if the ruling doesn’t provide an answer to all problems connected with European chemicals legislation, it does carve out a few lessons to be learned. For this reason, ChemSec and ClientEarth joined forces in a new report that aims to analyse the judgement and translate it into concrete actions for the future.

“This judgement should be a turning point for how alternatives are analysed”

“This judgement should be a turning point for how alternatives are analysed in the authorisation process. With our report, we want to give our analysis of it and highlight what needs to be done to change the process”, says Alice Bernard, Chemicals Lawyer at ClientEarth.

So, what does this ruling mean for the future?

First and foremost, the ruling makes it clear that changes in the working procedure are absolutely necessary. It also serves as a useful reminder to both public authorities and companies about how the authorisation system is supposed to work.



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