(CN) - The European Commission violated EU law by never defining what substances have endocrine-disrupting properties and cannot be used as ingredients in biocidal products, the EU's lower court ruled Wednesday.
In 2012, EU lawmakers sought to regulate the sale and use of biocidal products because of environmental concerns and the potential dangers to human and animal health.
The regulation lists a number of active ingredients that are not approved for use, including ones that have endocrine-disrupting properties that could harm humans. The lawmakers tasked the commission with coming up with the scientific criteria for what constitutes an endocrine-disrupting property by December 2013.
In a rare move, Sweden took the commission to court in July 2014 asking for a declaration that the EU's administrative and regulatory body had illegally failed to act by not defining the scientific criteria for endocrine-disrupting properties by the deadline.
On Wednesday, the European General Court found that EU lawmakers had given the commission "a clear, precise and unconditional obligation to adopt delegated acts as regards the specification of the scientific criteria for the determination of the endocrine-disrupting properties and that was to be done by Dec. 13, 2013."
The commission never did so, and since lawmakers never amended or repealed the regulation and the commission never asked for more time an illegal failure to act occurred, the Luxembourg-based court ruled in an opinion that was not made available in English.
While the commission argued it had proposed scientific criteria in mid-2013 to much criticism that the list had no basis in science and would have disrupted the internal market, the court said opposition to the commission's list did not change the concrete deadline given by EU lawmakers.
The court also rejected the commission's claim that it needed to carry out an "impact analysis" of the various possible solutions - finding the regulation didn't call for any analysis and that even if one were necessary, the commission should have done it and still come up with the criteria by deadline.
The commission has two months to appeal the general court's decision.
Endocrine disruptors are found in many products used daily, including cleaning products and cosmetics.
In 2013, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration found that daily, long-term use of antibacterial soap containing triclosan and triclocarban may contribute to bacterial resistance to antibiotics and "may have unanticipated hormonal effects."
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