« Is This a War Crime? | Main | Err? »

April 10, 2006

New EU Directive

I get the feeling that the European Union might be dabbling a little too much in details here:

The Irish custom that sees corpses kept in an open coffin so the deceased can be viewed during the wake has been endangered by an edict issued by Stavros Dimas, the EU environment commissioner.

He wants chemicals used by embalmers to preserve the cadaver withdrawn under a new biocides directive.

Leave aside the threat to the wake which looks like it has a get out. A slightly grander point. Is the method of preservation of corpses really a proper interest of the top level of government?  Is it really true that it is such an important matter that the Gauleiters for 450 million people need to turn their attentions to it?

One other matter occurs to me. If formaldehyde is to be banned (which appears to be the case) what happens to those who die outside the EU but wish to be buried inside? Embalming is fairly standard practice in the US (I think there are some states that insist upon it?) and if, say, someone dies in Florida, does this mean their corpse, embalmed in the usual manner there, cannot be buried in the EU?

Is this really an appropriate example of the prinicple of subsidiarity?

April 10, 2006 in European Union | Permalink


TrackBack URL for this entry:

Listed below are links to weblogs that reference New EU Directive:


It's hard to comment without examining the directive, but given that goods move freely throughout the Union, the control of dangerous chemicals is exactly the sort of thing that should be handled at the federal level. Whether the ban is necessary, or framed in the right terms is another matter. A third matter is how the federal apparatus should go about deciding how and what to control as being dangerous.

Posted by: Marcin | Apr 10, 2006 12:14:51 PM


What about the risks of transporting DHMO?

A risk free world is impossible.

Posted by: Rob Read | Apr 10, 2006 1:13:57 PM

It's probably a fair bet that there is more than one way to pickle a corpse.

Malmsey, for example, might be quite effective, and shouldn't upset Mr Dimas at all.

Posted by: auntymarianne | Apr 10, 2006 5:12:17 PM

I have no idea what DHMO is, nor indeed have I had a chance to examine the directive. As I said, "Whether the ban is necessary, or framed in the right terms is another matter." I have no idea whether the ban is right or wrong, and I have no connections with the undertaking industry. My point is only that the control of dangerous chemicals is the kind of thing that requires a federal element in a federal system or a free trade bloc.

Posted by: Marcin | Apr 10, 2006 6:37:58 PM

DHMO = diHyrodgenMonOxide - H20 - water. Its a spoof concept to demonstrate the hysteria of the greenies.

Posted by: johnny bonk | Apr 11, 2006 2:34:44 PM

"Is the method of preservation of corpses really a proper interest of the top level of government?"

Well yes it is if they're environment commissioner, and said preservation entails use of chemicals thought to be damaging to the environment. Duh.

Posted by: StuartA | Apr 11, 2006 6:19:48 PM