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The Effects of the EU Chemicals/Waste Regulations on the EU Defence Industry

  • by: Adrian Mansfield
  • On: 28, Sep 2021
3 min read

Military weapons and equipment regularly use a range of hazardous chemicals and materials and it is no different in the EU. This essential use and procurement have long been strongly dictated by the EU’s regulations on chemicals and waste.

These regulations were recently revised in the Waste Framework Directive (WFD Article 9)/SCIP Database that further regulated organic pollutants, fluorinated gases among many others. It also had many restrictions on chemical usage on electronic defence apparatuses, resulting in wide-ranging consequences to the EU Defence Industry.

Adding to the familiar regulations on REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) and CLP (Classification, Labelling and Packaging), six other legislations related to chemicals and waste will now affect the defence industry and so, will have to be closely monitored.

To fully understand the impact, the European Defence Agency (EDA) commissioned a study with REACHLaw that was published in January 2021.

VHR have taken a deeper look at how the new EU chemicals/waste regulations will affect the EU Defence industry. 

The Study That Impacts The Regulations

A broad study was conducted with participation from key stakeholders like the defence ministries of member states, the European Commission, industry stakeholders and ECHA (European Chemicals Agency).

With this report, the EDA looked at the implementations and requirements of the new regulations at defence industry levels and developed recommendations on how defence ministries and the armed forces may implement the new regulations coherently and while minimizing any adverse impact.

The study provides an in-depth view of the six new chemical and waste-related legislation and the impact they may have on EU defence capabilities. These are: 

  • Fluorinated Gases Regulation (F-gas)
  • Revised EU Waste Framework Directive (WFD)/SCIP Database.
  • Persistent Organic Pollutants Regulation (POP)
  • Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR)
  • Directive on the Restriction of Hazardous Substances in electrical apparatuses (RoHS)
  • Ozone Regulation regarding ozone-depleting substances (ODS)

How The Study Will Affect Chemical/Waste Regulations-

After impact assessments on the six chemical and waste legislations, the study concludes that reducing the availability of required chemicals and equipment will lead to a reduction in reliability, performance, and longevity. This will have a profound impact on the EU’s defence capabilities, from the beginning of the defence equipment lifecycle (design and manufacturing till the end (maintenance and disposal).

Additionally, the study identified that defence exemptions such as those found under CLP and REACH will not necessarily ensure the long-term availability of the chemicals – which are needed to maintain defence-related equipment.

As to the revised EU Waste Framework Directive, the study found that the new database will have a definite impact on Defence ministries when it comes to setting up and managing defence exemption processes. Additionally, in certain cases, it can pose potential security risks and create the need for SCIP notification duties for ministries of defence in some countries.


What impact will this have on Defence?

When queried about the impact of the new regulations, officials in the industry as well as defence stakeholders expressed serious concerns regarding the complexity and scale of the notifications they will have to make. Moreover, there are significant worries of potential conflicts in protecting classified and confidential information.

It is worth noting that since notifications to SCIP are only required from 5th January 2021 onwards, the process has only just started so the final impact on defence ministries is still unclear. The impact analysis of this EDA study will be the first of many in this long follow up process.

Recommendations For The EU Defence Industry-

Finally, the study put forward many recommendations on follow up activities related to each regulation.

The EDA study recommends that member states exchange positive practices in implementing the new procurement processes, monitoring the materials used in defence capabilities and highlighting common ground and differences between chemical legislations.

With regards to the new WFD/SCIP Database, the study recommends setting up a dedicated SCIP activity to assess and explore solutions in reducing the effect of chemical and waste requirements in the future.

View the final report here.

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