The Council and the European Parliament have reached an agreement on an EU regulation on mercury – one of the ten top pollutants in the world according to the World Health Organisation (WHO). Prior to its entry into force, the agreement has to be confirmed and formally approved by EU member states and by the plenary.

After a marathon final round of negotiations that lasted into the early hours of Wednesday, the two parties agreed on the conditions for the use of mercury in Europe, under the scope of the International Minamata Convention which is aimed at significantly reducing emissions and releases of mercury into the environment.

GUE/NGL MEP Stefan Eck, the rapporteur for the file, acknowledged “some progress” on a few of the topics addressed in the final text comparing it with the original draft proposed by the European Commission. However, he considered “this political agreement too weak, too vague”. He also added that “it falls well short of his personal expectations when it comes to the protection of human health and the environment”.

The German rapporteur was particularly critical of a “broad coalition of shadow rapporteurs from the other political groups for committing too early to the feeble proposals by the Slovak EU presidency”. He also accused member states “of duplicity and collusion with big economic interests and operators for opposing the more progressive and environmentally ambitious proposal from the Parliament's Committee on the Environment and Public Health (ENVI).”

“I found myself outnumbered by my colleagues who once supported me but then broke rank amongst the Parliament's negotiators. They finally forced me to leave aside some of the best and most ambitious ENVI proposals to dramatically reduce the quantities of mercury present in our ecosystems including a phased ban on dental amalgam,” Eck concluded.

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