The EU is doing this for a variety of reasons including (a) it can and (b) they're looking at some truly heinous health costs if they don't and since they actually pay that aggregate cost, they care. The US (as a government, and as a variety of corporate and quasi-corporate entities such as the Chamber of Commerce), needless to say, resisted. Other countries are busy playing me, too -- to the EU, not the US. It _might_ be because they're feeling pissy abou the Iraq, but Schapiro makes a strong case that it's really all about the total size of the EU as a market, vs. the size of the US. Also, there are real health and moral issues like, say, will any of us still be able to reproduce with another decade or so of this crap being pumped into the environment.
Individuals states and other smaller jurisdictions in the US are now playing Me Too also, and now the chemical industry is in the unpleasant situation of lobbying for us to match ROHS, because the prospect of having to understand and comply with 50+ alternative regulatory structures is too horrible to contemplate. Also, there is access to the EU market, and wanting to force companies which only sell in the US onto a level playing field with the big guys.
Great book; I highly recommend it. If you live in my town, my copy will shortly be on the shelf at our local library. If you don't, get it from yours. While it is excellent, it is hardcover, and I have this feeling that there's going to be another chapter in this saga written in the next couple years. It's a good read, too -- Schapiro presents a lot of wonky information within a dual narrative structure. On one level, it's the story of how he traveled around and talked to people and learned about this stuff. On another level, it's the story of the EU coming into its own as a market and a regulatory entity.