All talk, little action: precaution and European chemicals regulation

Noelle Eckley, Henrik Selin
2004 Journal of European Public Policy  
The European Union has chosen the precautionary principle as a key guiding principle to achieve more effective policy-making on risks, by moving away from preventive regulation towards more precautionary regulation. Precautionary language has been a part of European Community law for over a decade; however, whether its establishment has had any real effect on European policymaking and regulations is more unclear. This article examines whether the introduction of precautionary language in
more » ... ty texts has had an effect on the process by which potential risks associated with hazardous chemicals are managed. The article focuses on the two cases of polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs) and brominated flame retardants (BFRs), and covers the time before, during, and after the Community introduction of the precautionary principle. The article finds that there has been a marked change in the way environmental risks are conceptualized and discussed, but a clear effect in regulatory practice has yet to be seen. Current proposals to revise Community chemicals management, however, contain elements that could enhance precautionary regulation.
doi:10.1080/1350176042000164316 fatcat:csfaik42k5hivb6c6hxryi2h34