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The Rotterdam Convention on the international trade in hazardous chemicals

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The Rotterdam Convention on the international trade in hazardous chemicals

The European Union regulates the export and import of chemicals and has ratified the Rotterdam Convention of 1998. The aim of the Convention is to improve the international regulation of trade in certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in order to protect human health and the environment and to promote the environmentally sound use of such substances.


Council Decision 2006/730/EC of 25 September 2006 on the conclusion, on behalf of the European Community, of the Rotterdam Convention on the Prior Informed Consent Procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade.

Regulation(EC) n° 689/2008 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 17 June 2008 concerning the export and import of dangerous chemicals.


The Rotterdam Convention was signed by the European Community on 11 September 1998. This Decision, approving the Rotterdam Convention on behalf of the European Community, is accompanied by a Council Regulation to implement the Convention's provisions within the European Union (EU).


Fundamental principle

The Convention regulates the import and the export of certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides. It is based on the fundamental principle of Prior Informed Consent (PIC), meaning that under the Convention, a chemical listed in the Convention may only be exported with the importer's prior consent. The Convention establishes a procedure to disseminate the decisions taken by the importing countries, thus implementing the PIC principle in the international trade in chemicals. It contains provisions requesting detailed information on the chemicals so that these decisions may be taken once data are available on the properties and the incidence of these products in particular on human health and the environment.

Products concerned

The Convention applies to banned or severely restricted chemicals and to extremely hazardous pesticide formulations. Over 30 chemicals are currently subject to the PIC procedure.

However, certain products are excluded from the scope of the Convention, namely:

Implementation of the Convention

Each Party must designate a national authority to ensure implementation at national and regional level. The Convention establishes a conference of the Parties which ensures implementation at international level and the evaluation of the Convention, including the approval of amendments. There is also a subsidiary body called the Chemical Review Committee (the Committee), which is responsible for analysing and assessing chemicals. The Secretariat is mainly responsible for coordination and administrative tasks.

Listing of hazardous chemicals and pesticides

Each Party must inform the Secretariat of any regulatory action adopted in respect of one or more chemicals or pesticides on its territory. Such notification must include information on the properties, identification and use of the chemical and its regulatory action. Where there are two notifications for the same chemical from at least two different regions, the Committee will review the information provided and, where appropriate, will recommend that the chemical in question be included in the list of chemicals subject to the Convention. Severely hazardous pesticides are subject to specific provisions. The Convention takes into consideration the fact that developing countries or countries with economies in transition have more limited means, and allows these countries to draw upon technical expertise from any source if they wish to include a pesticide in the list. The Committee will then review the information provided and may recommend the pesticide for listing.

The Conference of the Parties reviews the Committee's recommendation and may take the final decision. It can also decide to remove a chemical from the Convention.


Each Party must specify whether or not it consents to the import into its territory of the hazardous chemicals or pesticides listed in the Convention. Parties may also decide to consent to import only subject to specified conditions. Interim decisions are also accepted. A Party that does not consent to the import of a chemical or that only consents under specified conditions must ensure that the import of the chemical from any source and the domestic production of the chemical for domestic use are made subject to the same conditions.


Each exporting Party must, of course, comply with the decisions of the other Parties relating to import authorisations. A chemical may not be exported to any Party that has failed to transmit a response or has transmitted an interim response. However, there are exceptions, for example where the importing Party has given its explicit consent to the import of the chemical in question.

In addition, the exporting Parties should assist importing Parties, upon request, to obtain further information and to strengthen their capacities to manage chemicals during their life-cycle.

Any exported chemical that is banned or severely restricted under the Convention must be accompanied by an export notification, and the importing Party must also acknowledge receipt of the chemical. The Convention contains provisions on the information that must accompany the chemicals, such as labelling requirements.

Exchange of information

The aim is to facilitate the exchange of scientific, technical, economic and legal information concerning the chemicals within the scope of the Convention, and to provide information on domestic regulatory actions in this area.

Technical assistance

Developing countries and countries with economies in transition may receive technical assistance from Parties which are more advanced in the area of chemical regulation.

Settlement of disputes

The Conference of the Parties draws up provisions on non-compliance with the Convention. With respect to dispute settlement, the Parties may resort to an arbitration procedure. A Party which is not a regional economic integration organisation may also submit the dispute to the International Court of Justice.

Withdrawal from the Convention

A Party may withdraw from the Convention three years after the date on which it came into force. This will take effect upon expiry of at least one year from the date of receipt of the notification of withdrawal.


The purpose of the Regulation is to implement the provisions of the Rotterdam Convention within the European Community. It will ensure that the measures laid down in the Convention are adopted; at the same time, some of the provisions contained in the Regulation will go beyond what is required in the Convention.

Chemicals concerned

The scope of the Regulation is wider than that of the Convention. It covers certain hazardous chemicals, which are banned or severely restricted within the Community or a Member State. It also covers the classification, packaging and labelling of all exported chemicals.

Export procedure

The Regulation establishes the deadlines and obligations which will apply to the notification procedure. The system requires that each exporter submit one export notification each year before the first export of a chemical. The notifications will be entered in a centralised register.

The Regulation contains certain measures that are more stringent than those of the Convention. Under the Regulation, any chemical or pesticide that is banned or severely restricted within the Community, and any articles containing these chemicals, must be accompanied by a notification. In addition, explicit consent for export is required for any dangerous chemical or pesticide which is banned or severely restricted within the Community, where it qualifies for PIC notification, even if that chemical or pesticide is not subject to the provisions of the Convention and is not included in the list of products already subject to the PIC procedure. The Regulation also imposes minimum standards concerning, for instance, the useful life of exported chemicals or pesticides, and storage conditions. The measures on labelling and packaging are also more stringent.

Export measures will apply to exports to all countries and not just to those that have signed the Convention.

The Regulation provides for the possibility of completely banning the export of certain specific chemicals or pesticides.


The penalties applicable to infringements of the provisions of this Regulation is determined by the Member States. These must be effective, proportional and dissuasive.

Exchange of information

The provisions are extended to all countries and the Regulation refers to European Community participation in an information network on capacity building set up by the Intergovernmental Forum on Chemical Safety.

Monitoring and evaluation

The Regulation requires regular reports to be drawn up on the quantities of exported chemicals and pesticides concerned. As regards the monitoring and evaluation of the functioning of the Regulation, Member States must regularly submit information to the Commission, which in turn will draw up regular reports on the subject.


The implementing conditions are mostly laid down by the Convention. Each Member States must designate one or several national authorities to ensure that the Regulation is implemented at national level. The European Commission will be responsible for implementation at Community level; it will also play a coordinating role between the Member States and between the European Community and the institutions of the Convention. The Commission will also be responsible for amending the annexes. It will be assisted by a committee.



Entry into force

Deadline for transposition in the Member States

Official Journal

Decision 2006/730/EC



OJ L 299 of 28.10.2006

Regulation (EC) No 689/2008



OJ L 204 of 31.7.2008

The successive amendments and corrections to Regulation (EC) No 689/2008 have been incorporated in the original text. This consolidated version is of documentary value only.

Last updated: 06.09.2010