The Restriction on Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) took effect on July 1, 2006 in the European Union. While not a law, the directive restricts the use of six hazardous materials in the manufacture of various types of electronic and electrical equipment. Each state will adopt its own enforcement and implementation policies for RoHS.
Methinks this is very clever, as this will tend to encourage companies to comply with the lowest common denominator of the deluge of regulations that will come from these countries. However, since the fines that are levied go back to the country where your home office is located, it could become an investment incentive for governments. Right now, France has the lowest fines in the EU, 1500 Euros, while Ireland's is a whopping 15 MILLION Euros.
RoHS is a big deal. Many companies are eager to repeal RoHS, as it causes a huge burden on their operations. Similar legislation is being introduced in China, Japan, South Korea, and the US, and a lot of this new stuff will be tougher than RoHS. Similar to the EPA, I bet RoHS and the raft of laws that follow RoHS is going to be a big income generator for government. And when it comes to the environment, that's probably a good thing.