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EU environmental requirements for imports

Goods imported into the European Union must meet the specific environmental standards to protect consumers and the environment. The EU’s Export Helpdesk provides a detailed listing where exporters can find the requirements applying to specific products.

The main requirements can be classified in the sectors: chemicals, ozone-depleting substances (ODS), fluorinated greenhouse gases, endangered species and waste. Check the requirements applying to your product in the My export section of the European Commission Export Helpdesk.

The main requirements can be classified in the following sectors:

  •  Chemicals

Control of trade in dangerous chemicals: Imports of certain dangerous chemicals into the EU are subject to controls under the Rotterdam Convention on the prior informed consent (PIC) procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade - implemented in the EU by Regulation (EC) No 689/2008. All information regarding import requirements is contained in European Database of Export and Import of Dangerous Chemicals (EDEXIM). More information on trade in dangerous chemicals. The main requirements apply mainly to chemicals, ozone-depleting substances (ODS), fluorinated greenhouse gases, endangered species and waste."

Control of persistent organic pollutants (POPs): EU policy aims at eliminating or minimising the use of these products, in line with the Stockholm Convention on POPs and the Protocol to the regional UNECE Convention on long-range transboundary air pollution (CLRTAP) – implemented by Regulation (EC) No 850/2004. More information on persistent organic pollutants 

Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH): REACH is the EU chemical legislation that came into force in June 2007. In several phases, REACH establishes a new system for existing and new substances and sets requirements for manufacturers in the EU and EU importers of chemicals and products containing chemicals. In the EU, the chemicals industry is responsible for providing information on the properties of chemical substances they produce. This information is kept in a central database run by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), which manages and coordinates the whole process.

Classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures: Before chemicals can be placed on the EU market, they must be classified, labelled and packaged in accordance with the United Nations Globally Harmonised System (GHS), which classifies chemicals according to their hazardous properties. This system is implemented in the EU by Regulation (EC) No 1272/2008, which will gradually replace the current rules by 2015. More information on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures

Plant protection products and biocides: In the EU, plant protection products must be authorised before they can be placed on the market, as must many of their component ingredients. The authorisation and approval arrangements are set out in Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009. More information on plant protection products.


  • Ozone-depleting substances (ODS)

If you are an exporter of products containing ozone depleting substances (e.g. spray cans, refrigerators, solvents or fire extinguishers), you have to make sure that these ozone depleting substances used are not prohibited in the EU. Some chemicals such as (hydro-) chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs and HCFCs) and methyl bromide cause global ozone layer depletion and these compounds may contribute to global warming.

Limited quantities of ozone-depleting substances (ODS) may enter the EU only under stringent conditions. In particular:

  1. they may be authorised only for essential uses where no alternative is available
  2. their (non-EU) country of origin must be a signatory of the 1987 Montreal Protocol on ODS
  3. they must be accompanied by an import licence issued by the EU (DG Environment), within an annual quota

The requirements are set out in accordance with the Montreal Protocol to control ODS. Imports of products and equipment containing or relying on ODS are prohibited. More information on protection of the ozone layer.


  • Fluorinated greenhouse gases

If you want to export refrigerating products, air-conditioning and heat-pump equipment, high voltage switchgear, footwear, tyres, aerosols or fire protection systems to the EU, you have to make sure that your products meet the requirements related to the use of fluorinated greenhouse gases.

Fluorinated gases are powerful greenhouse gases which are extremely persistent in the atmosphere. To restrict the damage of these gases in the atmosphere, the EU set requirements for their use.

EU policy is to reduce emissions of fluorinated greenhouse gases covered by the Kyoto Protocol (hydro fluorocarbons, perfluorocarbons and sulphur hexafluoride). Rules governing trade and marketing of these substancesMore information on fluorinated greenhouse gases.


  • Endangered species (CITES)

So that international trade in wildlife does not threaten the conservation of endangered species, Imports of these species into the EU are subject to the 1973 Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES).

If you are an exporter of wild flora, fauna, or products thereof, you should take into account the provisions laid down by CITES in order to guarantee the EU entry of your products. Based on CITES the trade of specimen of certain (endangered) listed animals, plants, or products containing material from these species (e.g. leather articles, handicrafts, jewellery, flowers, plants, furniture, and antiques) is prohibited or restricted.

As a result, the EU prohibits the import of specimen of certain endangered species. For specimen of other species, the import is under certain circumstances allowed but only if the shipment is accompanied by official documentation: (re-)export permits, import permits, or import notifications. Specimens of endangered species (and parts or derivatives) entering the EU must be accompanied by permits and certificates. More information about trade in wild flora and fauna.


  • Waste

Shipment of waste: EU policy requires all waste entering the EU to be authorized in advance and notified to the authorities. Radioactive waste is subject to specific requirements. More information on the shipment of waste.

-Packaging waste: All packaging placed on the EU market must meet basic requirements regarding composition and recoverability. These requirements aim to prevent the production of packaging waste, to promote the reuse of packaging (recycling or other forms of recovering packaging waste) and as such to reduce the final disposal of such waste. More on EU policy on packaging waste.

-Waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE): EU rules restrict the use of hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment, and promote reuse, recycling and other forms of recovery of such waste. EU legislation on waste electrical and electronic equipment.More information on the review of the EU rules on waste electrical and electronic equipment

-Batteries and Accumulators: EU rules prohibit the marketing of batteries containing hazardous substances and require spent batteries and accumulators to be collected and recycled under special schemes. EU legislation on batteries and accumulatorsMore information on EU policy on batteries.

More info:

Check the requirements applying to your product at My export.

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