Ecodesign Regulation: International Bromine Council (BSEF) legally challenges European Commission ban on halogenated flame retardants in enclosures of electronic displays
09 March 2020
The International Bromine Council (BSEF) lodged formal proceedings with the European Court of Justice in Luxembourg against the European Commission (EC) with respect to its recently published regulation on Ecodesign requirements electronic displays. BSEF is the voice of the bromine flame retardant industry globally and disagrees with the regulation’s unprecedented and unwarranted restriction on halogenated flame retardants (HFRs) for electronic display enclosures.
HFRs are safe substances for their intended use, essential to preventing /delaying the start of fires especially from electronic displays, and for ensuring human safety.
BSEF consider this ban unlawful as the EC exceeded the limits of its competence, under the EU Ecodesign Directive 2009/12, by imposing restrictions on an entire class of substances that are within the scope of, and controlled by other specific EU legislations (such as the EU RoHS Directive 2011/65, which controls the use of hazardous substances in electronic and electrical equipment such as electronic displays).
BSEF also notes that the EC failed to take relevant information into account, did not conduct an appropriate impact assessment and breached the general EU law principles of legal certainty, proportionality and equal treatment. The lack of a proper Impact Assessment means that this class of substances has not undergone the scrutiny required under the REACH Regulation ((EC) No 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals) and the RoHS Directive. The Commission has therefore not examined the risks or the benefits to human health and the environment.
Given the above, BSEF is seeking annulment of the regulation to prevent the ban coming into force in March 2021. Commenting on the decision, BSEF Secretary General, Dr. Kevin Bradley highlighted that regulatory coherence is key for the success of the circular economy.
“Flame retardants are one of the critical tools to ensure product safety. These substances prevent electronics from becoming a source of fire. Halogenated flame retardants are among the best performing chemistries for electronics and eliminating their use, particularly where other regulatory regimes already permit and regulate their use in displays, does not represent sound public policy”,he noted. ‘’Our submissions to the Commission on these aspects have unfortunately not been heeded and as such, we are obliged to resort to this legal action’’.
BSEF – the International Bromine Council, is the global representative body for bromine producers and producers of bromine technologies. Originally founded in 1997, BSEF works to foster knowledge on the societal benefits of bromine and its applications. The members of BSEF are Albemarle Corporation, ICL Industrial Products, Lanxess and Tosoh.
 COMMISSION REGULATION (EU) 2019/2021 of 1 October 2019 – laying down ecodesign requirements for electronic displays pursuant to Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council, amending Commission Regulation (EC) No 1275/2008 and repealing Commission Regulation (EC) No 642/2009 – p.241, Official Journal of the EU L315/241, 05 December 2019 [Link]