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Glossary of summaries

Glossary of summaries

PRECAUTIONARY PRINCIPLE

The precautionary principle is an approach to risk management, where, if it is possible that a given policy or action might cause harm to the public or the environment and if there is still no scientific agreement on the issue, the policy or action in question should not be carried out. However, the policy or action may be reviewed when more scientific information becomes available. The principle is set out in Article 191 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union (TFEU).

The concept of the precautionary principle was first set out in a European Commission communication adopted in February 2000, which defined the concept and envisaged how it would be applied.

The precautionary principle may only be invoked if there is a potential risk and may not be used to justify arbitrary decisions.

Examples of where the EU has applied the precautionary principle include its regulatory framework for chemicals (Regulation (EC) No 1907/2006 — known as REACH) and the general regulation on food law (Regulation (EC) No 178/2002).

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