Governments agree to put the European PFAS approach on the agenda of the European Environment Council

8 July 2021
Zuhal Demir

All the governments of the country agree with the proposal of the Flemish Minister for the Environment, Zuhal Demir, to put the European approach to PFAS on the agenda of the next European Environment Council meeting. “The pollution caused by 3M in Zwijndrecht has also served as a wake-up call for the other governments. Flanders is one of the few regions in Europe with a PFAS Action Plan since 2020 but can only expect a limited number of European colleagues to join it in taking the lead. Nevertheless, this is something in which Europe really cannot be left behind if it considers the protection of the environment to be of paramount importance,” Minister Demir says.

An Interministerial Conference was held on Thursday, at which Flemish ministers Demir (Environment) and Beke (Health) discussed the file with colleagues of the other governments in this country. Minister Frank Vandenbroucke (Federal Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Health), Minister Tellier (Walloon Minister of the Environment) and Minister Maron (Brussels Minister of the Environment) were among those present.

Flanders has had a PFAS Action Plan since 2020

Flanders has had a PFAS Action Plan since 2020, which contains the many necessary actions within its competences. The governments agreed to carry out the necessary actions within their own competences and to inform each other about them. The Federal Government has a lot of work to do with regard to PFAS via the FASFC and the FPS Public Health. Minister Demir also called for the strengthening of the public prosecutors’ offices to prosecute environmental crimes, among other things.

Support for Flanders’ proposal

Since the pollution of 3M in Zwijndrecht was made public, the other governments are also calling for more actions. After all, Wallonia and Brussels still do not have any draft soil remediation standards, while Flanders has had these for a year. In the rest of Europe, too, things remain relatively quiet around the issue. “Along with the Netherlands, parts of Germany and Scandinavia, Flanders is one of the few Member States working on a policy framework regarding PFAS. Flanders is a forerunner in that area, and we want to keep it that way, but Europe must not lag behind. I am therefore also grateful for the support of my fellow ministers to knock on the table during the European Environment Council meeting and to get Europe to take sensible actions,” Zuhal Demir says.

In the meantime, Zuhal Demir is also contacting people in the European Commission to get more movement on the issue.

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