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EU Parliament Resolution 2009 on health concerns associated with EMFs

The European Parliament:

2.  Calls for particular consideration of biological effects when assessing the potential health impact of electromagnetic radiation, especially given that some studies have found the most harmful effects at lowest levels; calls for active research to address potential health problems by developing solutions that negate or reduce the pulsating and amplitude modulation of the frequencies used for transmission;
12.  Calls on the Commission to present a yearly report on the level of electromagnetic radiation in the EU, its sources, and actions taken in the EU to better protect human health and the environment;
15.  Draws attention in this context to the appeal for caution from the coordinator of the Interphone study, Elisabeth Cardis, who, in the light of existing knowledge, recommends, as far as children are concerned, that mobile phones should not be used beyond reasonable limits and that landlines should be preferred;
22.  Calls on the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection and the World Health Organisation (WHO) to be more transparent and open to dialogue with all stakeholders in standard setting;
28.  Calls on Member States to follow the example of Sweden and to recognise persons that suffer from electrohypersensitivity as being disabled so as to grant them adequate protection as well as equal opportunities;

European Directive 2013/35/EU

On the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents (electromagnetic fields).

It is to be transposed by member states by July 1 2016.

Article 1: Subject-matter and scope:

1.   This Directive, which is the 20th individual Directive within the meaning of Article 16(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC, lays down minimum requirements for the protection of workers from risks to their health and safety arising, or likely to arise, from exposure to electromagnetic fields during their work.
2.   This Directive covers all known direct biophysical effects and indirect effects caused by electromagnetic fields.
3.   The exposure limit values (ELVs) laid down in this Directive cover only scientifically well-established links between short-term direct biophysical effects and exposure to electromagnetic fields.
4.   This Directive does not cover suggested long-term effects.

Article 2: Definitions: For the purposes of this Directive, the following definitions shall apply:
(a) ‘electromagnetic fields’ means static electric, static magnetic and time-varying electric, magnetic and electromagnetic fields with frequencies up to 300 GHz;
(b) ‘direct biophysical effects’ means effects in the human body directly caused by its presence in an electromagnetic field, including:
    (i) thermal effects, such as tissue heating through energy absorption from electromagnetic fields in the tissue;
    (ii) non-thermal effects, such as the stimulation of muscles, nerves or sensory organs. These effects might have a detrimental effect on the mental and physical health of exposed workers. Moreover, the stimulation of sensory organs may lead to transient symptoms, such as vertigo or phosphenes. These effects might create temporary annoyance or affect cognition or other brain or muscle functions, and may thereby affect the ability of a worker to work safely (i.e. safety risks); and
    (iii) limb currents;

(e) ‘health effects ELVs’ means those ELVs above which workers might be subject to adverse health effects, such as thermal heating or stimulation of nerve and muscle tissue;
(f) ‘sensory effects ELVs’ means those ELVs above which workers might be subject to transient disturbed sensory perceptions and minor changes in brain functions;

Article 4: Assessment of risks and determination of exposure:
1.   In carrying out the obligations laid down in Articles 6(3) and 9(1) of Directive 89/391/EEC, the employer shall assess all risks for workers arising from electromagnetic fields at the workplace and, if necessary, measure or calculate the levels of electromagnetic fields to which workers are exposed.

Article 5: Provisions aimed at avoiding or reducing risks:

9.   Where paragraphs 3 and 4 of Article 3 apply and where the worker reports transient symptoms, the employer shall, if necessary, update the risk assessment and the prevention measures. Transient symptoms may include:
    (a) sensory perceptions and effects in the functioning of the central nervous system in the head evoked by time varying magnetic fields; and
    (b) static magnetic field effects, such as vertigo and nausea.

Article 8: Health surveillance:
1.   With the objective of the prevention and the early diagnosis of any adverse health effects due to exposure to electromagnetic fields, appropriate health surveillance shall be carried out in accordance with Article 14 of Directive 89/391/EEC. Health records and their availability shall be provided for in accordance with national law and/or practice.
2.   In accordance with national law and practice, the results of health surveillance shall be preserved in a suitable form that allows them to be consulted at a later date, subject to compliance with confidentiality requirements. Individual workers shall, at their request, have access to their own personal health records.
If any undesired or unexpected health effect is reported by a worker, or in any event where exposure above the ELVs is detected, the employer shall ensure that appropriate medical examinations or individual health surveillance is provided to the worker(s) concerned, in accordance with national law and practice.
Such examinations or surveillance shall be made available during hours chosen by the worker, and any costs arising shall not be borne by the worker.

Article 14: Practical guides:
In order to facilitate the implementation of this Directive the Commission shall make available non-binding practical guides at the latest six months before 1 July 2016. Those practical guides shall, in particular relate to the following issues:

    (g) the evaluation of exposures in the frequency range from 100 kHz to 10 MHz, where both thermal and non-thermal effects are to be considered;
    (h) the guidance on medical examinations and health surveillance to be provided by the employer in accordance with Article 8(2).

European Directive 2014/53/EU

This European Directive is “to ensure the protection of health and safety of persons”.
-    Member states are required to transpose it into national law by June 12 2016 (49.1, p.32) and members states will have to issue a report by June 12 2017 and every two years thereafter (47.1, p.31).
-    The responsibility for compliance is with the Commission, member states, the economic operators, manufacturers and those who market such devices.

Article 3: Essential requirements:

1. Radio equipment shall be constructed so as to ensure: (a) the protection of health and safety of persons and of domestic animals and the protection of property, including the objectives with respect to safety requirements set out in Directive 2014/35/EU, but with no voltage limit applying. (p.11)

Article 42: Compliant radio equipment which presents a risk:
1. Where, having carried out an evaluation under Article 40(1), a Member State finds that although radio equipment is in compliance with this Directive, it presents a risk to the health or safety of persons or to other aspects of public interest protection covered by this Directive, it shall require the relevant economic operator to take all appropriate measures to ensure that the radio equipment concerned, when placed on the market, no longer presents that risk, to withdraw the radio equipment from the market or to recall it within a reasonable period, commensurate with the nature of the risk, as it may prescribe.
2. The economic operator shall ensure that corrective action is taken in respect of all the radio equipment concerned that he has made available on the market throughout the Union.
3. The Member State shall immediately inform the Commission and the other Member States. That information shall include all available details, in particular the data necessary for the identification of the radio equipment concerned, the origin and the supply chain of radio equipment, the nature of the risk involved and the nature and duration of the national measures taken.
4. The Commission shall without delay enter into consultation with the Member States and the relevant economic operator or operators and shall evaluate the national measures taken. On the basis of the results of that evaluation, the Commission shall decide by means of implementing acts whether the national measure is justified or not and, where necessary, propose appropriate measures. The implementing acts referred to in the first subparagraph of this paragraph shall be adopted in accordance with the examination procedure referred to in Article 45(3). On duly justified imperative grounds of urgency relating to the protection of health and safety of persons, the Commission shall adopt immediately applicable implementing acts in accordance with the procedure referred to in Article 45(4).
5. The Commission shall address its decision to all Member States and shall immediately communicate it to them and the relevant economic operator or operators. (p.29)

Council of Europe

Resolution 1815 (2011)

Parliamentary Assembly of the Council of Europe:

6. The Assembly regrets that, despite calls for the respect of the precautionary principle and despite all the recommendations, declarations and a number of statutory and legislative advances, there is still a lack of reaction to known or emerging environmental and health risks and virtually systematic delays in adopting and implementing effective preventive measures. Waiting for high levels of scientific and clinical proof before taking action to prevent well-known risks can lead to very high health and economic costs, as was the case with asbestos, leaded petrol and tobacco.
7. Moreover, the Assembly notes that the problem of electromagnetic fields or waves and their potential consequences for the environment and health has clear parallels with other current issues, such as the licensing of medication, chemicals, pesticides, heavy metals or genetically modified organisms. It therefore highlights that the issue of independence and credibility of scientific expertise is crucial to accomplish a transparent and balanced assessment of potential negative impacts on the environment and human health.
8. In light of the above considerations, the Assembly recommends that the member states of the Council of Europe:
    8.1. in general terms:
        8.1.1. take all reasonable measures to reduce exposure to electromagnetic fields, especially to radio frequencies from mobile          phones, and particularly the exposure to children and young people who seem to be most at risk from head tumours;
        8.1.2. reconsider the scientific basis for the present standards on exposure to electromagnetic fields set by the International Commission on Non-Ionising Radiation Protection, which have serious limitations, and apply ALARA principles, covering both thermal effects and the athermic or biological effects of electromagnetic emissions or radiation;
        8.1.3. put in place information and awareness-raising campaigns on the risks of potentially harmful long-term biological effects on the environment and on human health, especially targeting children, teenagers and young people of reproductive age;
        8.1.4. pay particular attention to “electrosensitive” people who suffer from a syndrome of intolerance to electromagnetic fields and introduce special measures to protect them, including the creation of wave-free areas not covered by the wireless network;
    8.3. concerning the protection of children:
        8.3.1. develop within different ministries (education, environment and health) targeted information campaigns aimed at teachers, parents and children to alert them to the specific risks of early, ill-considered and prolonged use of mobiles and other devices emitting microwaves;
        8.3.2. for children in general, and particularly in schools and classrooms, give preference to wired Internet connections, and strictly regulate the use of mobile phones by schoolchildren on school premises;

European Economic and Social Committee (EESC)

There was much disquiet over procedures in the EESC in January 2015. The EESC's TEN-559 committee had formulated and carefully refined a very positive proposal to help people suffering inequality because of functional disability incurred by Electrosensitivty, At this stage it appeared to be a genuine recognition of the many difficulties faced by people with the established condition of real EHS and not the different condition of Electrophobia. It would thus support the growing number of legal and tribunal cases finding in favour of real EHS in many European member states, such as France, Spain, Sweden and the United Kingdom. 

At the last moment, however, a counter-proposal was submitted. It was led by a member with industry ties which appeared to give rise to a possible conflict of interest over the disability and equality issue. Even though the full EESC had only about 24 hours to consider the proposal, it was allegedly forced through by some members being required to vote for it by governmental pressure groups.

Numerous complaints were lodged with the European Ombudsman. She upheld the tenor of the complaints, without being able to negate the final vote. She required the EESC in future to ensure that all potential conflicts of interest should be fully declared and to give greater time to considering such a controversial counter-proposal against an equality submission developed over several months by one of its own committees.

"The EESC should:

  • - review the relevant rules in order to ensure that its members make, in a timely manner, a complete declaration of all relevant interests. This should cover any interests which could have an impact upon their work with the EESC;
  • - require that declarations of interests be updated on a yearly basis.
  • Moreover, if a member or a third party brings to the EESC's attention new circumstances that may affect the content of the declaration of interests initially submitted, the EESC should examine the matter and update that information in a timely manner where necessary.
  • - seek to ensure that its members are always provided with enough time to examine documents on which they will be asked to vote."

     European Ombudsman: "Recommendation of the European Ombudsman concerning the alleged failure by the European Economic and Social Committee to ensure that a member declared all relevant interests (inquiry into complaints 500/2015/ PHP, 561/2015/ PHP, 570/2015/ PHP, 577/2015/ PHP, 619/2015/ PHP, 635/2015/ PHP and 650/2015/ PHP)" (September 19 2016)