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[GreenYes] Impact of EU on US Regulatory Environment
    According to today's Wall Street Journal ("Rules, Regulations of Global
Economy Are Increasingly Being Set in Brussels,"):

"...Americans may not realize it, but rules governing the food they eat, the
software they use and the cars they drive increasingly are set in Brussels,
the unofficial capital of the EU and the home of its executive body, the
European Commission.
"Because of differing histories and attitudes toward government, the EU, a
15-nation trading bloc with a population of 376 million and the world's
second-largest economy, regulates more frequently and more rigorously than
the U.S., especially when it comes to consumer protection. So, even though
the American market is bigger, the EU, as the jurisdiction with the tougher
rules, tends to call the shots for the world's farmers and manufacturers.
Because of the EU, Microsoft Corp. has modified contracts with software
makers and Internet-service providers to give consumers a wider choice of
technologies, and McDonald's Corp. has stopped serving soft-plastic toys
with its Happy Meals.
"....The EU initiative would require electrical-equipment makers to eschew
certain hard-to-recycle plastics and chemicals, such as brominated flame
"...When it comes to consumer or environmental protection, EU regulators
often invoke what they call the "precautionary principle," a sort of
better-safe-than-sorry code. That approach evolved partly from a series of
food scares in Europe over the past 10 to 15 years, involving such threats
as "mad-cow disease," the misuse of growth-promoting hormones in livestock
feed and, more recently, dioxin contamination. It also reflects the fact
that Europeans are more inclined than Americans to expect government to
protect them.
Often, suspicion of an adverse effect on consumer health or the environment
is enough to trigger an EU regulation, regardless of the cost to business.
The U.S. sometimes takes the better-safe-than-sorry approach, as it did when
it banned the use of cellphones in airplanes, fearing they would interfere
with other communications equipment. But U.S. regulators generally must
balance the potential benefits of a regulation against the costs. That's
partly because businesses can fight American regulators' decisions during
rule-making proceedings or, afterward, in court. Most EU decisions aren't as
easily challenged.
In 1999, when the EU banned the use of a class of chemicals used to soften
plastics -- because of fears they could harm children who sucked on
soft-plastic toys -- international toy makers fell in line. For toys
intended for children under three, El Segundo, Calif.-based Mattel Inc.,
which makes Barbie dolls and Fisher-Price products, shifted entirely to
softening agents derived from edible oils and plant starches. McDonald's
banished soft-plastic toys altogether from its Happy Meal bags and boxes.
Now, the EU is considering requiring companies to test 30,000 chemicals
already on the market to see whether they are hazardous, as well as
thousands of products that use some of the chemicals in question. Veronique
Scailteur, a Brussels-based toxicologist with Procter & Gamble Co., says the
company might have to stop using ethanol in the after-shaves and dishwasher
detergents it sells world-wide because lab tests show alcohol can interfere
with animal reproduction. ..."

Peter Anderson
4513 Vernon Blvd. Suite 15
Madison, WI 53705
Ph:    (608) 231-1100
Fax:   (608) 233-0011
Cell:   (608) 345-0381

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