Jean Monnet Chair Harri Kalimo “Advising the advisors” on Microplastics

The Group of Chief Scientific Advisors of the European Commission's Scientific Advice Mechanism (SAM) is in the process of producing a Scientific Opinion on the heatedly debated topic of microplastics. The Group’s Initial Statement on this topic was published in July 2018, followed up by a background paper on the microplastic pollution policy context in November 2018, and thereafter an Evidence Review Report authored by an interdisciplinary consortium of scientists (SAPEA). In the 10-11 January expert workshop, the state of scientific knowledge on micro-plastics was discussed on the basis of the SAPEA report and other input, and aimed at facilitating the formulation of the Scientific Opinion. Jean Monnet Chair Harri Kalimo presented in the meeting his insights from a legal and policy perspective. He highlighted how the potential absence of a firm scientific evidence could affect the Commission’s -- but also the individual Member States’ -- room for maneuver in terms of regulating the topic. He also drew attention to the importance of properly taking into account the negative and positive repercussions that any policy-making on micro-plastics might have on other aspects of the environment, in particular the climate, as well as on the functioning of the internal market. Prof Kalimo noted numerous parallels between today’s discussions on plastics and another topic where a rather universal consensus was reached three decades ago – the ozone-depleting substance under the Montreal Protocol – and suggested that the EU continues to drive international efforts on plastics, also for that reason.