I continue to get emails daily from people hoping for a RoHS exemption. It is hard for me to be encouraging; although the RoHS directive does list some exemptions, the exemptions are vaguely defined. See the example below. This section covers some of the material that is included in RoHS (i.e. not exempted.)
WEEE Annex 1A ... 6) Electrical and electronic tools (with the exception of large-scale stationary industrial tools) ... Equipment for turning, milling, sanding, grinding, sawing, cutting, shearing, drilling, making holes, punching, folding, bending, or similar processing of wood, metal and other materials.
So you work for the ABC Company that manufactures a 500 kg machine that makes widgets. Your company considers the machine to be "a large stationary tool." So management is hoping for an exemption and are ready to "self declare" ABC's exemption. Your competitor, the ACME Company, would love to have all of your European business. They come up with a clever strategy. They decide that they must comply with RoHS/WEEE and list numerous reasons why widget making machines should not be exempted. On July 1, 2006 they ship their first RoHS compliant machine to Europe and send the EU a note that you (ABC) are out of compliance and should not be allowed to sell in the EU. They point out that although your machines weigh 500 kg, they have wheels and ABC advertises the ease with which the machine can be moved around the shop floor. Hence, ABC's machines shouldn't be considered stationary. The EU agrees and ABC is locked out of the EU market.
Will this happen? Obviously, I can't say for sure. But, fortunes will be lost and made in the WEEE/RoHS switchover. And your competitor might be looking to make one off of you!