The Firearms United Network has shared a reserved information paper from the European Commission to the members of the NADEG Group shows a blatant attempt from the EC to influence national decision-makers and back its disastrous ploy to enact a total ban on all civilian-grade lead-based ammunition!
As we already announced back in 2019, the European Commission has been bent for years to an – albeit slow – legislative process to amend the REACH regulation in such a way that would ban any and all uses of lead-based ammunition for all hunting and sport shooting practices Europe-wide, both within and outside of wetlands
The Coronavirus pandemic might have slowed the procedure down, but it wasn't enough to stop it. Yesterday – May 5, 2020 – the Firearms United Network, a well-known international gun rights advocacy group, published a document on its official website and Facebook pages that was reportedly leaked from DG ENV – the Directorate-General for Environment of the European Commission. The original document can be read and downloaded in .PDF format here, in English language.
Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directives ("NADEG")
14th Meeting, 6-7 May 2020
Document N°: Doc Nadeg 20-05-03
Subject: work on lead in ammunition
The EU and the 23 Member States that are contracting parties to the Agreement for the Conservation of African Eurasian Waterbirds have committed to endeavouring phasing out the use of lead shot in wetlands. Furthermore, phasing out the use of lead shot in wetlands is one of the points addressed in the agreement signed in 2004 by BirdLife International and FACE (Federation of Associations for Hunting and Conservation in the EU) under the auspices of the Commission.
In December 2015, the Commission requested ECHA to prepare a dossier in accordance with Annex XV of the Regulation (EC) N° 1907/2006 on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) for a potential future restriction of the use of lead shots in wetlands across the European Union. The dossier includes a risk assessment, an analysis of alternatives and a socio-economic assessment.
The Agency's Committees for Risk Assessment (RAC) and Socio-Economic Analysis (SEAC) opinion was sent to the Commission on 17 August 2018.
All documents are available on the ECHA website for consultation.
Based on the opinions of RAC and SEAC, the Commission considers that there is an unacceptable risk to the environment as well as a possible risk to human health from the use of lead in gunshot in wetlands and where spent gunshot would land within wetlands, which needs to be addressed on a Union-wide basis.
Based on the opinion, in accordance with Article 73 (1) of REACH, the Commission started the legislative procedure to amend Annex XVII of the REACH Regulation. The Commission proposal is currently being discussed in the REACH Committee.
The Commission services would like to invite NADEG members to contact the competent national authorities in charge of REACH, in particular their national representatives in the REACH Committee, to raise their awareness on the issue and to ensure a positive vote on the draft Commission Regulation. A vote in the Committee is expected in June 3 (the draft regulation will be at the agenda of the Committee for a vote if the conditions allow to convene a physical meeting in June 2020).
In parallel, the Commission asked ECHA to assess the potential ban of lead in terrestrial habitats other than wetlands and in fishing weights (cf. resolution 11.15 of the Convention on Migratory Species 11.15).ECHA concluded that there are sufficient indications of risk from those uses of lead to justify additional regulatory measures. On 16 July 2019, the Commission requested ECHA to prepare an Annex XV dossier for restriction on the placing on the market and use of lead in ammunition, i.e. gunshot used in terrains other than wetlands and bullets used both in wetlands and in terrains other than wetlands, as well as of lead in fishing tackle.
ECHA is currently working on the Annex XV dossier for restriction, to be submitted to the Scientific Committees in the autumn of 2020. All the information on this process will be made publicly available on ECHA website..
NADEG members can also contribute to the on-going restriction process potential ban of lead in terrestrial habitats other than wetlands and in fishing weights). Once the discussion starts in the ECHA Scientific Committees, there will be two public consultations.
The real meaning of this letter
The letter can be summarized in a request from the European Commission to the members of NADEG (Expert Group on the Birds and Habitats Directives) to pressure their national representatives and decision-makers in the REACH Committee to support the Commission's own request for a full ban on lead-based ammunition, not limited to wetlands, as well as for a full ban on lead-bases fishing tackle.
This is nothing short of a blatant violation of the norms that regulate the European law-making procedures, in which the European Commission and its members and agencies should (hypothetically, at least!) observe a strict impartiality line in order to achieve better regulations, straying away from any temptation to follow any line or agenda dictated by sheer ideology.
In our previous articles, we detailed what kind of damage the European shooters and hunters community would sustain from a full ban on lead-based ammunition; and while the European Commission stresses that there is "sufficient evidence" to advocate for a full ban, the truth is that "evidence" of potential danger posed to the environment, animal and human health by lead-based ammunition in environments other than wetlands fails to gain universal scientific consent.
And since the European gun owners community is well wary of the shenanigans of the European agencies and their "scientific, socio-economic, and risk assessments" – such as those that backed the EU Gun Ban attempt of 2015/2017 – we all have our doubts regarding the true scientific nature, the fairness and impartiality of ECHA's opinions and papers on the proposed EU Lead Ammo Ban.
It's now very clear how this attack is ideologic in nature, and nothing more: the European Commission knows the kind of damage that a lead ammo ban would do on the European gun owners community and to the firearms industry as a whole, and intends to pass it as a punishment for the resistance that the community and the industry opposed to the EU Gun Ban attempt, which led to a massive watering-down of the 2017 European firearms directive and to a defeat for the Commission.
Even more importantly, it's clear how the European Commission is siding with the most mindlessly extremist fringes of the environmentalist movement, sticking to the principles and plans of the "European Green Deal" even now that the recession caused by the COVID-19 pandemic and the global lockdowns would suggest to put it on hold and take other ways in order not to worsen the internationally gloomy economic situation – a situation that may hit certain sectors harder than others, potentially jeopardizing their capabilities to plan ahead and continue their activities in the near future.
If the European Union and its institution wish to go ahead and further antagonize millions of law-abiding gun owners – as well as one of the world's biggest civilian arms and ammunition industries, causing economic damages that will hit mostly all Member States – we are powerless to stop them. It should not however come to a surprise to them if anti-EU sentiment is on the rise in many Countries and if other "Exit" options after the British separation from the EU are finding increasing popular support.
We are now awaiting to see what documents, and what strategies, the billions-worth civilian firearms and ammunition industry of Europe intends to protect itself, its interests, and the rights of millions of their customers Europe-wide.