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Events

2021/10/20
   EP - Decision by Parliament
Details

The European Parliament adopted by 675 votes to 2, with 23 abstentions, a resolution with recommendations to the Commission on protecting workers from asbestos.

Asbestos causes between 30 000 and 90 000 deaths per year in the EU . The most common occupational cancer is lung cancer, which accounts for between 54% and 75% of occupational cancers, with asbestos being the main cause of lung cancer (45%).

People who work in the construction and renovation of buildings, mining and waste management, fire fighters, and homeowners and tenants are at risk of exposure to asbestos. Asbestos-related diseases can take up to 40 years to develop. A peak in the number of cases in the EU is expected around 2025.

European Strategy for the Removal of All Asbestos: ESRAA

Stressing that the safe removal of asbestos is an urgent and difficult task, Parliament reiterated its call for a comprehensive European strategy for the Removal of All Asbestos (ESRAA) in the EU, using synergies from several policy areas and giving top priority to safe working conditions.

Members suggested that EU structural and investment funds should be mobilised to improve the reliability and speed of asbestos diagnostics and the safe removal and management of waste. EU funds allocated under the building renovation wave should be reserved for beneficiaries who comply with EU and national regulations to protect workers from asbestos.

In addition, the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EU-OSHA) should be strengthened to provide scientific and technical support to improve prevention actions, to better monitor the identification of workplaces containing asbestos as well as the workers who have been exposed to it.

The resolution provides recommendations for several key elements that should be included in a ESRAA:

(1) A European framework directive for national asbestos removal strategies

Parliament called on the Commission to present a proposal for a framework directive for Member States to set up national asbestos removal plans that include clear and realistic timelines , including priorities and interim targets, detection and registration of asbestos, financing and support to homeowners and SMEs, protection measures for workers against the risk of asbestos exposure as well as the safe disposal of asbestos in order to prevent asbestos from entering into recycling processes.

Reiterating its call for national public asbestos registers , Parliament asked the Commission to introduce, in the context of a proposal for a framework directive, minimum standards for publicly accessible national digital registers on asbestos and other hazardous substances in public and privately owned buildings.

(2) Update of Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work

Parliament called on the Commission to update Directive 2009/148/EC in the light of the latest scientific knowledge and technical developments, with a view to strengthening EU measures for the protection of workers against the threat of asbestos and preventing the recurrence of asbestos-related casualties during the renovation wave.

Members stressed that the safe removal and disposal of asbestos containing parts and materials is a priority. They welcomed the Commission's commitment to present a legislative proposal in 2022 to further reduce workers' exposure to asbestos and called on the Commission to update, as a matter of priority, these exposure limits, which should be set at 0.001 fibres/cm3 (1000 fibres/m3).

(3) Recognition and compensation of asbestos-related diseases

Parliament called on the Commission to update its Recommendation of 19 September 2003 concerning the European schedule of occupational diseases and to use as it as the essential basis for drawing up a proposal for a directive on: (i) the recognition of work-related diseases, including all known asbestos-related diseases, with minimum standards for recognition procedures, and (ii) minimum standards for compensation for victims of asbestos-related occupational diseases.

This new directive should include elements such as a reversal of the burden of proof in recognition procedures, the establishment of national one-stop shops for all matters concerning occupational diseases, as well as ombudsmen to assist the workers concerned in recognition procedures.

(4) Asbestos screening prior to energy renovation works and selling or renting out a building

Parliament called on the Commission to present a proposal for an amendment to Directive 2010/31/EU in the context of the Renovation Wave introducing a requirement for the mandatory asbestos screening, registering, and removal of asbestos and other dangerous substances before any renovation works can start to protect workers' health and safety.

The Commission should present a legislative proposal for the mandatory screening of buildings before sale or rent and for the establishment of asbestos certificates for buildings constructed before 2005 or before the year of an equivalent national asbestos ban, whichever the earlier. Protective measures should be adopted for tenants where asbestos is found prior to energy renovation works. Screening and removal expenses should not be payable by the tenants.

Documents
2021/10/18
   EP - Debate in Parliament
2021/10/01
   EP - Committee report tabled for plenary
Details

The Committee on Employment and Social Affairs adopted the report by Nikolaj VILLUMSEN (GUE/NGL, DK) with recommendations to the Commission on protecting workers from asbestos.

Asbestos causes between 30 000 and 90 000 deaths per year in the EU. The most common occupational cancer is lung cancer, constituting between 54 % and 75 % of occupational cancers, whereas asbestos is the main cause of lung cancer (45 %). Exposure to asbestos combined with tobacco use considerably increases the risk of developing lung cancer. Moreover, asbestos is still largely present in buildings and infrastructure built before 2005 when the EU finally banned asbestos. The exposure occurs still among the EU workforce, especially - though not only - in the construction sector.

European Strategy for the Removal of All Asbestos (ESRAA)

Members stressed that the safe removal of asbestos is a difficult and urgent task. Comprehensive removal strategies will entail financial and administrative consequences for building owners, public authorities and businesses, in particular SMEs, including microenterprises, as well as a significant workload for the certifying bodies.

The European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (EUOSHA) should be strengthened in order to provide effective tools such as technical and scientific support for improving prevention efforts, to better monitor the registration of workplaces containing asbestos and the tracking of workers who have or might have been in contact with it, to improve training and protective equipment provided to workers. Members called for the establishment of a European platform, within the remit of EU-OSHA, to showcase good practices on the removal of asbestos and safe disposal of asbestos, which have already been implemented in several Member States, and to provide for the exchange of such good practices.

The report suggested that there is an urgent need for an effective access to justice and redress for all health damage, not only that relating to anxiety, for all asbestos victims. It underlined that all medical costs related to asbestos exposure should be covered by the employers . The Commission is called on to assess the possible need for legislation establishing a for diffuse pollution to provide compensation to victims for all damages from diffuse pollution, including that caused by asbestos.

A European framework directive for national asbestos removal strategies

While welcoming the Commission communication of 14 October 2020 entitled ‘A Renovation Wave for Europe’- greening our buildings, creating jobs, improving lives’, which seeks to renovate 35 million buildings by 2030, the report stressed that particular attention should be paid to protecting workers renovating old buildings and intervening in emergency operations from exposure to asbestos.

A European framework directive for national asbestos removal strategies, including the assessment of existing asbestos in the built environment, clear timelines and milestones for its safe removal, minimum standards for public digital asbestos registries mapping all existing asbestos in a country or region, public information campaigns and a financial framework for the support of building owners, the safe and documented disposal of asbestos waste, and proper controls and enforcement measures such as reinforced labour inspections, should set the framework for an ESRAA.

Asbestos registries should be accessible for workers and companies, owners, inhabitants, and users of buildings and regularly updated. Asbestos registration in the built environment is an important element also for the circular economy and waste strategy, for which the identification, registration, and documented disposal of hazardous materials is central.

Recognition and compensation of asbestos-related diseases

Member States are called on to facilitate recognition procedures by reversing the burden of proof, especially if national registers for asbestos workers were set up only recently, and to establish adequate compensation for workers suffering from asbestos related diseases. The Commission should present a proposal for a directive laying down Union minimum standards for the recognition and compensation of occupational diseases, including asbestos-related diseases. The Commission should also put forward a proposal for the Member States to establish a national function or an ombudsperson to assist victims of occupational diseases.

Member States are called on to facilitate the recognition of and compensation for documented victims of second-hand exposure through non-occupational contact with asbestos. The report stressed that the polluter must pay principle should be taken into account in the attribution of the cost of asbestos removal as far as possible.

Asbestos screening prior to energy renovation works and selling or renting out a building

The Commission should present a legislative proposal for the mandatory screening of buildings before sale or rent and for the establishment of asbestos certificates for buildings constructed before 2005 or before the year of an equivalent national asbestos ban, whichever the earlier. Protective measures should be adopted for tenants where asbestos is found prior to energy renovation works. Screening and removal expenses should not be payable by the tenants.

The EU as a global leader against asbestos

The EU is called on to work with international organisations to pioneer instruments to label the asbestos market as a toxic trade. It should integrate the fight against asbestos and asbestos-related diseases into its external policies.

Documents
2021/09/27
   EP - Vote in committee
2021/09/02
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2021/07/27
   EP - Committee opinion
Documents
2021/05/05
   EP - Amendments tabled in committee
Documents
2021/04/29
   EP - Referral to associated committees announced in Parliament
2021/04/26
   EP - BOMPARD Manuel (GUE/NGL) appointed as rapporteur in ENVI
2021/03/25
   EP - Committee draft report
Documents
2021/02/23
   EP - PELLETIER Anne-Sophie (GUE/NGL) appointed as rapporteur in IMCO
2020/01/31
   EP - VILLUMSEN Nikolaj (GUE/NGL) appointed as rapporteur in EMPL
2019/12/19
   EP - Committee referral announced in Parliament

Documents

Activities

Votes

Protection des travailleurs contre l’amiante - Protecting workers from asbestos - Schutz von Arbeitnehmern vor Asbest- A9-0275/2021 - Nikolaj Villumsen - § 3, point e - Am 1 #

2021/10/19 Outcome: +: 390, -: 285, 0: 24
PL FR IT RO CZ SK BE BG NL LT HR SE LV SI LU IE EE EL HU DE MT CY FI AT DK PT ES
Total
51
79
73
33
21
14
21
17
29
11
12
20
8
8
6
13
7
21
21
96
6
6
14
19
14
20
59
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A9-0275/2021 - Nikolaj Villumsen - § 9 - Am 3 #

2021/10/19 Outcome: +: 404, -: 284, 0: 11
PL FR IT RO HU CZ BE BG SK HR LT SE LV NL LU IE EE AT SI DK DE EL MT CY FI ES PT
Total
51
79
73
33
21
21
21
17
14
12
11
20
8
29
6
13
7
19
8
14
96
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6
14
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20
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A9-0275/2021 - Nikolaj Villumsen - § 15 - Am 4 #

2021/10/19 Outcome: -: 414, +: 224, 0: 61
HU PL IT LT SI LV SK BG IE HR EL MT CY LU RO CZ AT EE PT FI SE DE DK NL BE ES FR
Total
21
51
73
11
8
8
14
17
13
12
21
6
6
6
33
21
19
7
20
14
20
96
14
29
21
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A9-0275/2021 - Nikolaj Villumsen - § 24 #

2021/10/19 Outcome: +: 448, -: 235, 0: 16
ES PL DE FR NL DK FI PT IT SE SK CZ EL RO AT EE LV BE BG LT IE HR LU MT CY SI HU
Total
59
51
96
79
29
14
14
20
73
20
14
21
21
33
19
7
8
21
17
11
13
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6
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6
8
21
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A9-0275/2021 - Nikolaj Villumsen - § 25 - Am 5 #

2021/10/19 Outcome: +: 337, -: 295, 0: 67
PL RO BG CZ NL HU BE AT LV SI LU HR SK LT IE EE DE EL MT CY SE FI DK FR ES PT IT
Total
51
33
17
21
29
21
21
19
8
8
6
12
14
11
13
7
96
21
6
6
20
14
14
79
59
20
73
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A9-0275/2021 - Nikolaj Villumsen - § 50/1 #

2021/10/19 Outcome: +: 662, -: 24, 0: 12
FR DE IT PL ES RO EL HU PT NL BE CZ BG AT FI SE IE DK SK LT HR LV SI MT CY LU EE
Total
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96
73
51
59
33
21
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Hungary PPE

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Latvia PPE

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Malta PPE

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icon: S&D S&D
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Greece S&D

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Slovakia S&D

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icon: Renew Renew
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Italy Renew

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Hungary Renew

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Austria Renew

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Finland Renew

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Ireland Renew

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Lithuania Renew