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Defence impacted by variety of EU rules on chemicals/waste, study finds

A new study commissioned by EDA has found that, in addition to the well-known regulations on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and the Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP), at least six other pieces of chemicals and waste-related legislation have the potential to impact the defence sector and, therefore, need to be closely monitored.

Following-up on the 2016 EDA Study on REACH and CLP, the Agency last year outsourced a study to evaluate the impact of the following six pieces of EU legislation on chemicals and waste might have on EU defence capabilities:

The overall aim of the study was to provide detailed information on the impact of the six EU legislations on the defence sector and to propose recommendations on how defence stakeholders, mainly Ministries of Defence (MoDs) and the Armed Forces, could implement these in a more coherent way, in view of mitigating such impact.
A broad consultation was carried out with key stakeholders, including the MoDs of EDA’s participating Member States and Norway (which has an Administrative Agreement in place with the Agency), the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as well as EU defence industry stakeholders, including the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD) and the National Defence Industry Associations (NDIAs).


Based on impact assessments of the first five of the afore-mentioned pieces of legislation (BPR, POPs, Ozone, F-gas, RoHS), the study’s main conclusion is that, by reducing the availability of products leading to a reduction in performance, reliability, or longevity of defence equipment, those regulations have a significant impact on European defence capabilities during the whole lifecycle of defence equipment (design, manufacturing, in-service use and maintenance, disposal) and therefore on the European Defence Technological and Industrial Base (EDTIB). Moreover, potential defence exemptions (similar to those foreseen under REACH and CLP, if/when foreseen within the legal texts for these legislations), would not guarantee the availability of the chemicals necessary to maintain defence equipment in the long term, the study concludes.

As regard the revised WFD/SCIP database (6th piece of legislation listed above), the study identifies specific impacts on Ministries of Defence from the implementation of the SCIP database in relation to the setup and management of defence exemption processes (where applicable) as well as potential security risks for MoDs in complex scenarios and the possible existence of a SCIP notification duty for MoDs in some Member States consulted.

Asked about the potential impact from their perspective, defence industry stakeholders consulted under the study expressed serious concerns in relation to the scale and complexity of the notifications they need to make, as well as about potential conflicts with the protection of defence-sensitive/classified information and/or confidential business information (CBI).

Considering that according to WFD Article 9(1)(i) and subject to national transposition, notifications by duty holders to SCIP are legally required as of 5 January 2021, thus have essentially just started, it is important to highlight that the final impact on MoDs is still widely unclear, and that the SCIP impact analysis under the EDA study has been an important first step of a long follow up process.


The study also put forward specific recommendations for follow-up actions/activities related to each of the examined EU regulations. It also recommends EDA and its Member States’ Ministries of Defence to exchange good practices in the implementation of the regulations in relation to procurement requirements, to monitor the substances used in defence applications and to raise awareness on commonalities and differences as well as interactions between the different chemicals regulations.

With respect to the revised WFD/SCIP Database, specific recommendations have been developed such as the setting up of a dedicated SCIP activity at the EDA level to further assess and elaborate solutions to mitigate the impacts of the evolving SCIP requirements for defence-related cases in the future, taking into account further experience gained in the meantime.

Way ahead

EDA will now further assess the study outcome, together with its participating Member States and in consultation with relevant stakeholders. Based on this assessment, specific EDA activities will be identified/initiated to support Member States mitigate the impact of the six pieces of EU chemicals and waste legislation. 

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