GUE/NGL MEP and EP rapporteur Stefan Eck denounced the lack of ambition of the European Commission in tackling mercury pollution and its negative impact on public health. The German MEP was speaking at the Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European Parliament (ENVI) about his report on the ongoing review of the EU mercury regulation for which he has been nominated rapporteur representing the GUE/NGL group.

Eck characterised the Commission’s current approach as “minimalist” and denounced its lack of ambition to tackle mercury pollution and the negative impacts on public health:

“The Commission’s proposal has fallen victim to the ‘better regulation’ doctrine of Mr Juncker and Mr Timmermans. The choice of the most cost-effective approach is counterproductive and doesn’t abide by the Minamata Convention. It is clear that the proposal doesn’t pay enough attention to public interest.”

Eck presented the report to ENVI on the 12th of July in what was the first debate on the topic in the European Parliament ahead of the EU ratification of the UN global treaty. As the rapporteur for the file, Eck is in charge of reviewing compliance of the 2008 EU regulation on mercury with the recently signed Convention.

The legally-binding Minamata Convention aims to protect human health and the environment from the effects of mercury and its compounds with controls and reductions across a range of products, processes and industries where mercury is used, released or emitted. The Convention is named after a city in Japan that was seriously affected by mercury pollution in the mid-20th century.

Eck concluded his presentation to the Committee stressing the need for a long-term vision:

“We all know that the current efforts to reduce the well-known risks of mercury are insufficient and we need long-term measures in Europe and worldwide. We should have the courage to leave our own comfort zone and transform today's challenges into economic opportunities.”

“Environmental policy has always been the starting point for technological innovation. Environmental policy is also social policy: it influences the economic development and the quality of life of all people,” the German MEP affirmed.

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