contribute to further strengthen workers’ right to a high level of protection from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work
contribute to the implementation of the updated directive, so it is appropriately adapted to local realities
encourage the inclusion of the European Committee of the Regions in future dialogues and cooperation on workers' protection of their health and safety at work with the European Commission before and after the adoption of the amended directive
insist on the local and regional contribution in the development of frameworks/guidelines conducive to the effectuation of the amended directive and further raising awareness at local and regional levels about the dangers of asbestos exposure.
pursue a comprehensive approach to addressing the risks stemming from asbestos and to improving the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work
The provisional agrement reached between the Council and the European Parliament on 27/6/2023 reflects in certain points the related CoR opinion:
Following a transition period (6 years), member states will be required to implement a new method for measuring asbestos levels, electron microscopy (EM), which is more sensitive than the phase-contrast microscopy (PCM) currently used and makes it possible to measure thin asbestos fibres (Am5 & Am8 of the CoR opinion)
-The new rules agreed will initially reduce the maximum limit for exposure to 0.01 fibres of asbestos per cm³. Having introduced electron microscopy method (EM), member states will have two options:
• to measure thin asbestos fibres, in which case the maximum exposure limit will remain at 0.01 f/cm3
• not to measure thin asbestos fibres, in which case the maximum exposure limit will be reduced to 0.002 f/cm3 (Ams 3, 4, 10 of the CoR opinion)
Workers who are or may be exposed to asbestos should wear suitable personal protective equipment and undergo compulsory training (Am11 of the CoR opinion)
Member states shall keep a register of all cases of medically diagnosed asbestos-related occupational diseases (Am6 of the CoR opinion)
Following the adoption of the opinion in the CoR Plenary Session of 16 March 2023, The European Commission's report made extensive references to the opinion - namely AMs 2,4, 5, 7, 8, 11, and policy recommendations no. 6, 7, 10 - endorsing the CoR positions and outlining future actions.
THE EUROPEAN COMMITTEE OF THE REGIONS
- welcomes the European Commission's work on the revision of the Directive on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work;
- notes that the directive treats asbestos in a very fragmented manner, limiting the problem to only protecting workers from risks to their health and safety arising from exposure to asbestos at work;
- joins the call for a European strategy for asbestos removal, which would ensure an integrated approach of different policies and implement systemic and effective solutions in all Member States on inventory, monitoring, safe disposal, storage and education (training) methods;
- welcomes the legislative initiative entitled Asbestos screening, registering and monitoring that should lead to the implementation of a coordinated and comparable approach throughout the EU to make it easier to detect and then safely remove asbestos in the EU's building stock;
- calls on the Commission to create mechanisms to safely speed up the eradication of asbestos by raising awareness, more effective education and protection for workers and inhabitants through effective, attractive and targeted education and information programmes;
- notes that the main reason for the slow rate of asbestos removal is that only dismantling and disposal of asbestos products (particularly Eternit roofs) are funded. There is a need to introduce new subsidy mechanisms and incentives (e.g. tax relief, subsidies);
- draws attention to the need to initiate and financially support the innovative activities of R & D centres for the safe disposal, preservation and storage of asbestos (e.g. under Horizon);
- notes that in order for the directive to be successful, Member States and EU institutions should actively involve local and regional authorities at all stages of coordination and implementation of the revised directive;
- proposes that Member States are invited to harmonise national standards and procedures for recognising asbestos-related diseases and introduce a register of asbestos-related diseases.