1. On 5 December 2013, the Council of the EU adopted the new Directive laying down basic safety standards for protection against the dangers arising from exposure to ionising radiation. The directive takes into account the latest scientific findings and aims for comprehensive radiation protection. The Euratom directives on the protection of the health of the general population and workers, patients, outside workers, on informing the general public in case of radiological emergencies and on the control of high-activity radioactive sources have been repealed. Member states have to transpose the directive into national law within the next four years.

  2. On 24 May 2013, a restriction on the use of three pesticides belonging to the neonicotinoid family was adopted by the European Commission. These pesticides (clothianidin, imidacloprid and thiametoxam) were identified as being harmful to Europe’s honeybee population. This restriction will enter into force as from 1 December 2013 and will be reviewed, at the latest, within two years. It targets pesticides used in the treatment of plants and cereals that are attractive to bees and pollinators.

  3. On 20 November 2013, the Council and European Parliament signed into law the Decision on a 7th EU Environment Action Programme, which will guide EU policy action on environment and climate policy for the next seven years.

  4. On 17 October 2013, the European Commission took Germany to Court over a loophole in its legislation on access to justice in environmental matters. Under EU legislation, Member States must ensure a legal review procedure for decisions taken in the context of the Environmental Impact Assessment Directive and the Industrial Emissions Directive. The Commission is concerned at apparent gaps in German legislation in this area, which may be restricting citizens' access to justice. On the recommendation of Environment Commissioner Janez Potočnik, the Commission is therefore taking Germany to the EU Court of Justice.

  5. France's constitutional court has upheld a ban on hydraulic fracturing, ruling that the law against the energy exploration technique known as "fracking" is a valid means of protecting the environment. The court in Paris said on its website on 11 October 2013, that the 2011 law "conforms to the constitution" and is not "disproportionate".

  6. Directive 98/8/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council on the placing on the market of biocidal products was adopted in 1998. According to the Directive, Member States had to transpose the rules before 14 May 2000 into national law. The Biocidal Product Directive aims to harmonise the European market for biocidal products and their active substances. At the same time it aims to provide a high level of protection for humans, animals and the environment. The new Regulation on Biocidal products (EU) No 528/2012 was adopted on 22 May 2012, and applies from 1st September 2013. It repeals and replaces the former Directive.

  7. The new provisions on electromagnetic fields and the proof procedure under telecommunications law entered into force on 22 August 2013. The ordinance amending the existing provisions has now been adopted by the Federal Government with the consent of the Bundestag and Bundesrat and contains in particular regulations on precautionary health protection.

  8. The act governing the selection of a repository site for high-level radioactive waste (Standortauswahlgesetz) entered into force on 27 July 2013.

  9. On 21 May 2013, the European Parliament gave its green light to the new directive on the safety of offshore oil and gas operations. The new rules will require oil and gas firms to prove their ability to cover potential liabilities deriving from their operations and to submit major hazard reports and emergency response plans before operations can start.

  10. On 25 April 2013 the General Court of the European Union confirmed the validity of the Regulation on the marketing of seal products.

  11. On 11 March 2013,the last deadline to phase out animal testing for cosmetic products in Europe entered into force. Directive 2003/15/EC introduced provisions in relation into animal testing into the Cosmetic Directive 76/768/EEC. Accordingly, animal testing in the Union is already prohibited since 2004 for cosmetic products and since 2009 for cosmetic ingredients ('testing ban'). As from March 2009, it is also prohibited to market in the Union cosmetic products containing ingredients which have been tested on animals ('marketing ban'). For the most complex human health effects (repeated-dose toxicity, including skin sensitisation and carcinogenicity, reproductive toxicity and toxicokinetics) the deadline for the marketing ban was extended to 11 March 2013.

  12. On 3 March 2013, new legislation came into effect to counter the trade in illegal timber. The new EU Timber regulation will affect everyone in the wood trade. It prohibits the placing of illegally harvested timber on the European market in an effort to tackle the problem of illegal logging across the world. The new law affects both imported and domestically produced timber and timber products, and it covers an extensive range of products, from paper and pulp to solid wood and flooring.