In a dramatic intervention by the Czech Republic the European Commission was forced to drop a vote by EU member state representatives on illogical and premature proposals that could have banned the use and possession of lead shot across huge swathes of Europe and the UK in two years’ time.
Five years ago the European Commission requested the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to prepare proposals to restrict the use of lead shot over wetlands.
Mission creep by officials involved in the process resulted in proposals that went far beyond what was intended.
A ban on lead shot over wetlands makes sense, but not with an unworkable broad definition of wetlands was proposed that would cover anything from temporary puddles of water on clay grounds to every moorland in the UK. A ban on the use of lead shot within 100m of wetlands was also proposed and a vague ban on the possession of lead shot when shooting on or within 100m of wetlands.
After fierce lobbying on all sides of the lead ammunition debate agreement could not be reached in a Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) committee meeting. To force through a decision EC officials imposed a 21-day written vote for the member state representatives to take part in.
Victory for those that wanted a very wide-ranging ban looked certain until the Czech Republic intervened.
The Czech Republic, which has a strong shooting tradition, sensible gun laws and government support, used EU procedures to halt the online voting by requesting a reconvened face to face meeting of the REACH committee.
It is not certain when the next REACH committee meeting will be held and that might not be until 2021, which provides an opportunity for reflection and a rethink on poorly drafted proposals.
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