Brussels Update: EU Regulatory Developments and their Impact on the Global Industry

by Rania Georgoutsakou, director, Public Policy, SEMI Europe

A number of EU regulations will be amended or enter into force in 2017, and each of these can potentially impact how SEMI members do business in Europe.

Here’s a checklist of what to prepare for:

  • PFOA restricted in the EU – The use of PFOA, its salts and PFOA-related substances will be restricted under EU REACH, impacting primarily material and equipment suppliers. The substance is used as process chemistry for some device manufacturing and may also be present in chemical containers, vessels, tubing, gaskets, ductwork, filtration, and coatings in semiconductor manufacturing equipment. The EU restriction is expected to enter into force in Q2 2017 and SEMI has successfully advocated for a five-year derogation for semiconductor manufacturing equipment. Materials suppliers will need to verify that their chemical containers do not contain the restricted substances and semiconductor equipment and component suppliers will need to ensure that the substance is not present in their products at the end of the five-year derogation period. Device manufacturers can continue to use the substance for manufacturing, as lithography and etching processes are excluded from the scope of the proposed restriction.

The EU has also recommended that PFOA is restricted globally under the UN Stockholm Convention. This recommendation is currently under review and SEMI has engaged in the Stockholm Convention decision-making process to secure the exemptions SEMI member companies need.  For more details on this development, please see this recent article in SEMI Global Update.

 

  • EU RoHS 2 to be amended − The Commission has published a proposal to revise the EU RoHS directive, a move that has been expected for some years and aims to avoid some unintended effects of the legislation. The proposals include language to revise the scope of the law and clarify that ‘newly in scope EEE’ (category 11 – EEE that was not in the scope of RoHS 1) can benefit from secondary market operations and can have access to spare parts, if it was placed on the EU market before the compliance deadline of 22 July 2019. The Commission also proposes setting a nine-year maximum validity period for exemptions applicable to category 11 EEE and deleting the six-month deadline for the Commission to decide on industry requests to renew exemptions.  The Commission’s proposals are currently going through the EU decision-making process and will be reviewed and voted on by the EU law-makers (European Parliament and Council). Semiconductor manufacturing equipment benefits from the ‘large scale’ exclusions and is not subject to EU RoHS requirements (exemptions for large scale stationary industrial tools and large scale fixed installations), and SEMI will be monitoring the process to ensure any revisions to the legal text do not have an adverse impact on SEMI members
  • Applying REACH to very complex products – The “what is an article?” debate will continue in 2017, with the EU expected to finalize its revised guidance on how to apply the EU REACH requirements on ‘substances in articles.’ The revision process was triggered by the September 2015 ruling of the European Court of Justice, that changed the interpretation of the term ‘article’ to mean individual components and objects that are assembled into a larger products, rather than the complex, assembled product itself, and thereby increased the burden on importers and manufacturers of products in the EU.

SEMI is a member of the partners expert group (PEG) set up by the European Chemicals Agency to revise the guidance and has been advocating for a practicable and enforceable solution that acknowledges the realities of very complex products and global supply chains.

SEMI members are collaborating to develop guidance specifically for semiconductor manufacturing equipment, building on the consensus achieved with national authorities and other stakeholders in the expert group. This guidance will help SEMI member companies refine their due diligence processes and communicate with their supply chains in order to comply with the EU REACH requirements on substances in articles. To find out more or to get involved, please contact me (gourania@semi.org).

  • EU Conflict Minerals law to enter into force – EU legislators have reached an agreement on the new EU rules for responsible sourcing of conflict minerals and the legislation should enter into force by the end of 2017 . Under the new EU rules, due diligence in accordance with the OECD guidance will be mandatory for 95 percent of EU importers of tin, tungsten, tantalum and gold and their ores as of January 2021.  Downstream companies are encouraged to undertake due diligence voluntarily, and their level of engagement will be one of the elements reviewed two years after the law is applied with a clear mandate to introduce mandatory requirements for downstream companies if progress is unsatisfactory. Larger downstream companies (above 500 employees) in particular that are subject to the new EU law on ‘non-financial reporting’ and use ‘conflict minerals’ will find new performance indicators encouraging responsible sourcing of conflict minerals included in the compliance guidance to this new law .

    At a time when there is speculation about the future of U.S. requirements on conflict minerals under the Dodd-Frank Act, the EU law may can be reasonably expected to continue to drive for responsible sourcing and reporting of conflict minerals not only from the Great Lakes Region, but from any ‘conflict-affected or high-risk’ area around the world.
  • Ecodesign moving beyond energy-efficiency – EU eco-design rules, that have so far focused primarily on energy savings, will increasingly set out horizontal requirements for resource efficiency and providing information to ease of reuse and recycling, as was clearly stated in the long-awaited 2016-2019 EU Ecodesign Working Plan.

A recent example is the proposed EU eco-design requirements for electronic displays, that will also impact displays integrated into other products: the proposal requires the use of logos to indicate the presence of mercury or cadmium in the electronic display, as well as information on the location of all components containing the above two substances plus indium (the latter is classified as a critical raw material and therefore a substance the EU is keen to recover more of at a product’s end of life).

SEMI is currently or has in the past engaged in advocacy activities on all of the above issues, voicing members’ concerns and needs and trying to shape a positive business environment through regular constructive dialogue with decision-makers and other stakeholders.

SEMI’s advocacy work in Europe is driven by members – we manage a number of communities where members are regularly alerted to latest developments, exchange views with peers on the potential implications for the industry and forge a consensus on how to improve and comply with EU laws. 

For more information and to get involved, please get in touch! Rania Georgoutsakou in SEMI Europe  (gourania@semi.org) or Sanjay Baliga (sbaliga@semi.org) in SEMI headquarters.

Global Update
SEMI
www.semi.org
Feb 21, 2017