On 15 November 2023, the German federal government published a five-point plan to better protect people and the environment against endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs). With this plan, Germany is joining a small group of other EU countries - including Belgium, Denmark, France, Spain and Sweden - taking specific action to increase protection against EDCs at national level.
The German plan describes five areas of action for the federal government to take:
- Improving regulation
- Providing information
- Promoting joint action
- Further developing the level of knowledge on EDCs
- Strengthening international cooperation
EDC-Free Europe campaign partners like CHEM Trust Europe, HEJSupport, Pesticide Action Network (PAN) Germany, and WECF Germany have welcomed the initiative, but call for specific measures, a binding timeline, and a commitment for appropriate financing.
Endocrine disrupting chemicals, also known as hormone disruptors or EDCs, are synthetic chemicals that block, mimic or interfere with the natural hormones in our bodies. Decades of peer-reviewed research has linked exposure to endocrine disruptors to a number of serious health impacts, including cancer, obesity and diabetes, fertility problems, and thyroid disorders.
With the publication of its five-points plan, Germany is joining a select group of EU countries taking national action to complement EU regulations and to address the challenges of EDC exposure:
- Belgium announced its first-ever national action plan on EDCs in 2022, which runs for the period 2022 to 2026 (available in Dutch and French).
- Denmark adopted a political agreement on new joint chemicals initiatives for 2022-2025 in 2022, which aims “to prevent and minimise the occurrence of harmful substances in the environment and people”. The country previously launched national action plans on EDCs in 2006-2009 and in 2009-2012. As part of these action plans, the Danish government also established a national centre for endocrine disruptors (CeHos) in 2008.
- France published its second national strategy on endocrine disruptors in 2019, which is part of the country’s 4th French National Plan on Health & Environment.
- Spain published its Strategic Plan on Health and the Environment in 2021, which includes specific measures on EDCs like the training of healthcare professionals, the promotion of research and innovation, and increased communication towards citizens.
- Sweden launched its national action plan for a non-toxic everyday environment in 2010, covering a period of four years (2011 to 2014). This mandate was extended twice, for the period 2015-2017 and 2018-2020. Achieving a non-toxic environment by 2030 is one of the 16 national environmental quality objectives set by the Swedish government.
In some EU countries, local and regional authorities are also taking action to better inform citizens about the dangers of exposure to endocrine disruptors. In 2023, EDC-Free Europe together with local partners organised a special symposium to put a spotlight on some of these local and regional initiatives.
At the EU-level, the European Commission committed to “encourage member states which deem it necessary to develop specific information and educational campaigns on endocrine disruptors for the general public and vulnerable groups” in its 2018 Communication explaining the Commission’s plans towards a comprehensive EU framework on EDCs. However, progress to improve legislation on chemicals on a EU-wide scale has thus far been slow. EDC-Free Europe calls for all the commitments of the EU Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability to be upheld with no further delay.