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Press Release

For immediate release, February 8th ,2016


New Commission proposal puts EU on path from hero to zero to address global mercury crisis

Brussels, 8 February 2016 – The European Commission has quietly launched its new mercury package on 2nd February 2016 [1], moving the EU a step closer towards ratifying the Minamata Convention, a UN treaty to stamp out mercury [2]. While the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) welcomes the new package, its content fails to meet even the lowest of expectations.

We are deeply disappointed with this bare-bones proposal from the Commission,” said Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Manager.  “Under the guise of Better Regulation, it is putting the EU on an embarrassing path from hero to zero in addressing the global mercury crisis.  The proposal effectively ignores a public consultation, progressive industry voices, and even the scientific findings of its own impact assessment.”

The package sets out plans to update existing EU law in line with the internationally-agreed goals to limit mercury supply, use and emissions under the treaty. Despite the EU having played a leading role in the formation of the Convention, the new plan to put it into practice appears to have fallen victim to the EU’s Better Regulation agenda. The package was already delayed by over a year – pushing back the UN treaty ratification process [3] – and ambition is thin on the ground.

The new proposals follow the lowest-cost approach across the board rather than promoting higher environmental protection, according to the EEB. Elsewhere, other ‘new’ proposals are simply repackaged existing EU legislation, and some of the treaty requirements seem not to be covered by the proposal at all.

Mercury and its compounds are highly toxic to humans, especially to the developing nervous system. Mercury transforms to neurotoxic methylmercury, which has the capacity to collect in organisms (bioaccumulate) and to concentrate up food chains (biomagnify), especially in the aquatic food chain – fish, the basic food source for millions of people.

Recent studies indicate that mercury levels are increasing in tuna by 4% per year, correlating with the continuing rise in mercury in the global environment. If steps are not taken to reduce global mercury pollution, levels of mercury are expected to double by 2050 [4]. 

The EEB will now be calling on the European Parliament and Member States to recognise the gravity of the situation and adopt measures that will reduce and eliminate all unnecessary uses and releases of mercury.


For more information, please contact:

Elena Lymberidi-Settimo, Zero Mercury Campaign Project Manager, +32 (2) 289 13 01, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

Paul Hallows, Communications Officer, +32 (2) 790 88 17, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


Notes to editors:

[1] Ratification of the Minamata Convention on Mercury by the EU


[2] The Minimata Convention on Mercury http://www.mercuryconvention.org

To meet the Convention requirements, six areas are identified which need additional legislation at the EU level:

  • The import of mercury

  • The export of certain mercury added products

  • The use of mercury in certain manufacturing processes

  • New mercury uses in product and manufacturing processes

  • Mercury use in artisanal and small scale gold mining (ASGM)

  • Mercury use in dental amalgams

[3] NGOs Letter to the European Commission - The EU and its Member States should rapidly ratify the Minamata Convention on mercury, 14 December 2015


[4] Over the past year, it has become more apparent than ever that the global mercury crisis is affecting the food we eat.  Mercury concentrations in tuna are increasing at a rate of 3.8 percent or more per year, according to a new study that suggests rising atmospheric levels of the toxin are to blame. This correlates with recent studies showing that mercury levels in the global environment are set to double by 2050, if current pollution and deposition rates continue. More information: http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2015/02/150202151217.htm

Home Press Releases
Press releases 2007
# Article Title Date Hits
1 First Steps towards streamlining global solutions on mercury 16 November 2007 1372
2 “Saga is over”: mercury in most measuring devices will soon be history 10 July 2007 1666
3 EU mercury export ban advances, safer liquid mercury storage now being considered 28 June 2007 1796
4 EU Parliament votes for wide export ban and temporary storage of mercury 20 June 2007 1406
5 Le Parlement européen élargit l'interdiction des exportations de mercure et soutient le stockage temporaire du mercure liquide 20 June 2007 1213
6 Trouble in store. EU must safely manage excess mercury. 12 June 2007 1714
7 Quecksilber: EU muss komplettes Exportverbot beschließen 12 June 2007 1479
8 Stopper et stocker : pour une gestion sûre du mercure excédentaire européen 12 June 2007 1445
9 Stopper et stocker : pour une gestion sûre du mercure excédentaire européen 12 June 2007 1467
10 La UE debe asegurar un almacenamiento seguro del mercurio 12 June 2007 1332
12 Smaltimento del mercurio: l’Europa opti per uno stoccaggio temporaneo e controllato 12 June 2007 1432
13 Parar de usar e armazenar – a União Européia precisa gerenciar com segurança o excesso de mercúrio 12 June 2007 1517
14 “Victory for common sense”: Parliamentary Committee cracks down on mercury barometers 05 June 2007 1428
15 A real mouthfull:why mercury amalgams should be banned 27 May 2007 1447
16 Heading closer to a robust EU mercury export ban 03 May 2007 1445
17 Timid EU ministers shirk tough restrictions on mercury devices 20 April 2007 1443
18 Mercure : ça chauffe, mais pas encore assez ! 20 April 2007 1433
19 Merury still rising! World governments fail to agree on global regulations 09 February 2007 1463
20 „Halt! – Kein Handel mehr mit hochtoxischem Quecksilber!“ Nichtregierungsorganisationen fordern strengere Quecksilberbeschränkungen 09 February 2007 1221
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