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International agreements

How the EU implements international agreements on trade in hazardous chemicals, transporting hazardous waste, and on persistent organic pollutants.

Export and import of hazardous chemicals

The Prior Informed Consent Regulation governs the trade of certain hazardous chemicals that are banned or severely restricted in the EU. It places obligations on companies that wish to export these chemicals to non-EU countries or import them into the EU. 

The Regulation implements the Rotterdam Convention within the EU. The basic principle of the Convention is that the export of a banned or severely restricted chemical that is included in Annex III to the Convention can only take place with the prior informed consent of the importing Party. 

Find out more about the Prior Informed Consent Regulation and the Rotterdam Convention.  

Transporting hazardous waste across borders

Under the Basel Convention on the control of transboundary movements of hazardous wastes and their disposal, parties have to ensure that waste - including hazardous waste - is managed in an environmentally sound way. 

EU law on the shipment of waste includes rules for transporting waste across borders. It implements the obligations of the Basel Convention. It also further transposes the provisions of the OECD decision (2001) establishing a control system for waste shipments for recovery within the OECD area. 

Under EU waste shipment law, shipments of hazardous waste and waste destined for disposal are prohibited to non-OECD countries outside the EU. For shipments to OECD countries, they are generally subject to the prior notification and consent procedure which requires the prior written consent of all relevant authorities of dispatch, transit and destination. To speed up the procedure, Member States can designate 'pre-consented recovery facilities' (see OECD list) for which more lenient procedures apply and for which they will normally not raise objections as competent authority of destination. 

Shipments of “green-listed” non-hazardous wastes within the EU and OECD do not usually require the prior consent of the authorities, but information requirements apply. 

Eliminating and reducing persistent organic pollutants (POPs)

To address the risks posed by POPs, the international community came together to conclude several agreements to reduce and eliminate these substances. The Stockholm Convention on POPs was adopted in 2001 and entered into force in 2004. It aims to protect human health and the environment from POPs. It promotes global action on these substances and requires Parties to take measures to eliminate or reduce the release of POPs into the environment. 

Find out more about the EU Regulation on POPs.