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Restriction of Hazardous Substances: On the Need for and the Limits of Comitology


  • Karola Maxianova works as an Environment, Health and Safety (EHS) Consultant at Enhesa S.A., Brussels. She advises on EHS policy and regulatory developments at the level of the EU, in countries of Central and Eastern Europe and German-speaking countries. She holds a Masters Degree in European Studies from the Europa-Kolleg, University of Hamburg, and a Magister Iuris from the Law Faculty of Comenius University, Bratislava.

    Tim Maxian Rusche is an official at the European Commission, Brussels, where he works in the Internal Market and Competition Unit of the Directorate General for Energy and Transport. He holds a Masters Degree in Public Administration from the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, and a joint Masters Degree in Law from the University of Paris I (Panthéon-Sorbonne) and the University of Cologne.

    The views expressed in this article are strictly those of the authors and do not reflect those of their employers.


This article demonstrates the need for and the limits of the so-called comitology procedure in the area of European waste legislation, using the example of Directive 2002/95/ EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment (the RoHS Directive). The RoHS Directive prohibits the use of six hazardous substances in certain electrical and electronic equipment. The Annex to the RoHS Directive, which contains the exemptions from this prohibition, can be amended through the comitology procedure. This procedure is a widely used method in European Community law for the delegation of legislative power from the Council and the European Parliament to the executive branch, i.e. the European Commission. The authors conclude that the use of comitology is indispensable for highly technical issues for which the co-legislators are lacking the time, as well as the resources, to carry out the adaptation of the legislative acts. However, the Commission needs to handle comitology with care; otherwise it runs the risk that its decisions lack legitimacy.