While batteries have always been regulated, the regulations are more rigid now.
Lead and mercury in batteries have long been recognized as an environmental problem. EU Directives date back to 1991. In 2006 the EU has passed the new directive 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and repealing Directive 91/157/EEC. This directive replaces the previous directives.
This translates to less than 5 PPM (2% on button) of Mercury and less than 20 PPM Cadmium in the total weight of the battery. This doesn't appear to be at the homogenous level as in the RoHS Directive. Also, the battery or battery packaging must have the crossed out wheelie-bin.
The only limitations are use in military and space applications. If implemented on time, it is expected to be law in 2009. The key concept: all batteries will be recycled.
Mouser Electronics has decided that because of the directive's requirement for distributor take-back and the lack of verifiable battery collection schemes by member countries, that Mouser will not distribute batteries into the EU at this time. Batteries at Mouser will be handled the same as we handle EEE for the WEEE directive. Therefore you will see the icon on batteries. This icon will indicate that we will not ship the product to the EU or China. The directive also requires that batteries will not contain hazardous substances as described above and that they will be labeled with the crossed-out wheelie bin. We are still working with battery suppliers to ensure compliance and proper labeling.
EU Directives and Useful Links
2006/66/EC of September 6, 2006 on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators and repealing Directive 91/157/EEC.
DTI Website on Batteries and Accumulators