Thursday 8. December the EU Member States in the Council agreed on a position on the upcoming revision of the EU-rules on asbestos.
Danish Member of the European Parliament, Nikolaj Villumsen was the rapporteur of the 2021 legislative initiative report on asbestos, and is the negotiator (shadow rapporteur) for The Left group on the upcoming revision. The 2021 report he authored sets out a new occupational exposure limit value for the EU of 1000 fibres per cubic meter.
However, while the Council has tried to spin its proposal as progressive, Nikolaj Villumsen expresses his deep disappointment over the Council’s limit value of 10.000 fibres, which is 10 times higher than the limit value adopted by the Parliament last year:
The Council is clearly not listening to the concerns of experts and all the workers on the ground who are actually exposed to asbestos. We in the Parliament adopted the exposure limit value of 1000 fibres because it is recommended by science and by trade unions. The Council’s position is not just disappointing, it could also end up being detrimental to workers’ health. We know that there is no lower threshold where asbestos can be deemed to be safe.
The Council is clearly not listening to the concerns of experts and all the workers on the ground who are actually exposed to asbestos
Villumsen also points out that the Council is dragging its feet on the timeline for introducing the new ‘electron microscopy’ method, which is a new and more precise method for measuring asbestos fibres, and which would allow for the enforcement of a more ambitious exposure limit value. The Council has proposed a transition period of 7 years:
They cannot be serious. To believe that the Council would jeopardize lives for the sake of a tactical negotiating position ahead of the talks with the Parliament seems ludicrous. So, it must be a joke – but a bad one, says Nikolaj Villumsen.
He points out that it is now up the European Parliament to ensure an ambitious revision of the EU asbestos rule:
While the Commission proposal was a step in the right direction, it is very limited in scope and ambition. The Council’s position does not correct that. Clearly, it is now up to the European Parliament to ensure that we get new rules on asbestos that are in line with science and in line with the recommendations and wishes of all the workers who these rules actually concern.
Clearly, it is now up to the European Parliament to ensure that we get new rules on asbestos