Iain McFadyen mcfadyenusa at
Mon Aug 29 10:51:27 CDT 2005

Following-on from Saturday's discussion at Tippy's, this article was taken
from Sunday's Telegraph paper in the UK:

Solders in firing line

Amid all the excitement over "bra wars", and the billion dollars-worth of 
Chinese clothes piling up in European warehouses, there has been little
publicity for a subtler example of the EU's reckless protectionism. 

Patrick Staunton, a reader who makes model trains, has sent me a report on the
damaging consequences for his craft of an EC "hazardous substances" directive,
2002/95, due to come into force next July. This bans the use of lead, cadmium
and other metals in solders used in electrical equipment. 

For the careful work of fine-scale modelling, these metals are invaluable 
because their low melting point means that they can be applied to joints
without melting others around them. No other metals do the job so well. Lead
soldering poses no risk to health that cannot be avoided by careful handling,
which to modellers is second nature.

More serious in economic terms is the damage this directive is inflicting on
the electronics industries of China and other eastern countries where so much
of our computer and electronics equipment is now made. The EU's ban on
importing products using lead or cadmium in solders, according to the China
Business Times, is having a devastating effect on thousands of companies which
this year are due to export to Europe £60 billion-worth of products. They will
either find themselves excluded from the EU market, or they will face a hefty
rise in costs as they invest in less efficient substitutes. 

Thus is Brussels using the god "health and safety" as another hidden form of 
protectionism against cheap imports, at a price we shall all end up having to 
pay. As with that billion-dollar "bra and T-shirt mountain", it is hard to see
who gains.

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