Following the interinstitutional agreement reached by European co-legislators at the end of June on the revision of the Asbestos at Word Directive 2009/148/EC, an almost unanimous approval vote by the European Parliament’s EMPL Committee followed on 7 September. The text was then rubber stamped the European Parliament in Plenary on 8 October and by the Council on 23 October with no further modifications.
As a result, Directive (EU) 2023/2668 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 22 November 2023 amending Directive 2009/148/EC on the protection of workers from the risks related to exposure to asbestos at work was published on 30 November in the Official Journal (OJ) of the European Union, with a date of effect on 20 December 2023.
The new Directive is now available in all official EU languages. This marks the end of the legislative process for this file at EU level. Member States will now have two years at their disposal to transpose the Directive into national law, as well as six years to transition to a new methodology based on electron microscopy.
EBC advocated for an optimal safety of workers through a balanced approach in this reform that takes the reality SMEs into account, without hindering the goals set by the European Green Deal and the Renovation Wave. Our request for an extended transition period has been taken into account, as our proposals to accompany and support SMEs in the transition, including through specific EU funds, and reinforcer worker’s training.
However, the stricter and more detailed provisions regarding the processes facing companies, be it for permits, pre-activity audits, certification or tracking workers’ health and activity on the construction site, are expected to add administrative burdens and costs that could weigh on the capacity of SMEs. In this sense, national transposition legislation is going to be key, in the context of the Renovation wave where all type of construction companies, not only the specialised ones, might face asbestos work in refurbishment.
In the implementation phase, EBC will continue to advocate for the most effective health and safety framework to protects workers while taking the reality of construction SMEs into account.