At the end of October, the European Commission authorised the first use, by a Member State, of the safeguard clause contained in the REACH Regulation. France has been allowed to ban cellulose wadding insulation materials used in buildings, to protect the public from exposure to ammonia released from ammonium salts in the materials. The authorisation will lapse in July 2015 lest an EU-wide ban on the substance, prepared by France, will replace it by then.
As this was the first use of the measure, it remained to be seen how the EC would assess the French ban and the reasons for introducing it. It has adopted a great measure of deference to the national justifications invoked (in particular, incidents reported and initial measuring), even if the language of the safaguard itself is fairly restrictive.
Text of the safeguard clause (courtesy of REACHonline):
1. Where a Member State has justifiable grounds for believing that urgent action is essential to protect human health or the environment in respect of a substance, on its own, in a preparation or in an article, even if satisfying the requirements of this Regulation, it may take appropriate provisional measures. The Member State shall immediately inform the Commission, the Agency
and the other Member States
thereof, giving reasons for its decision and submitting the scientific or technical information on which the provisional measure is based.
2. The Commission shall take a decision in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 133
(3) within 60 days of receipt of the information from the Member State. This decision shall either:
(a) authorise the provisional measure for a time period defined in the decision; or
(b) require the Member State to revoke the provisional measure.
3. If, in the case of a decision as referred to in paragraph 2(a), the provisional measure taken by the Member State consists in a restriction
on the placing on the market or use of a substance, the Member State concerned shall initiate a Community restrictions procedure by submitting to the Agency
a dossier, in accordance with Annex XV
, within three months of the date of the Commission decision.
4. In the case of a decision as referred to in paragraph 2(a), the Commission shall consider whether this Regulation needs to be adapted.