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Commission concludes REACH is helping make EU safer

The European Commission has concluded that the use of chemicals in the EU has become safer since REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemical substances) came into force five years ago. The legislation sets out a timetable for manufacturers to register 30,000 of the approximately 100,000 chemicals on the market in Europe. Under the EU’s precautionary principle, European businesses are obliged to find substitutes for chemicals deemed potentially unsafe. It also introduced a ‘no data, no market’ rule, a EU regulatory body – the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) – and a candidate list for phasing out hazardous substances. The review recommendations included cuts to the fees paid for registering a substance, fairer cost-sharing, improving the quality of registration dossiers (an issue raised by a group of environmental NGOs last year), and better cooperation. Finally they want to reduce the cost and administrative burden of REACH for small and medium size companies (SME’s) as a recent consultation put REACH as one of the ten most burdensome EU laws for SME’s. Not all stakeholders are convinced of REACH’s success. Cefic state “it is clear that companies operating in Europe get hit twice… they are paying the whole cost of dossiers which the rest of the world can then access for free”. The trade association hope they “continuously give as much weight to monitoring the impact of REACH on competitiveness and innovation as to the assessment of other objectives”. German companies have previously asked that REACH be adapted to encompass nanomaterials. Currently nanomaterials are registered together with bulk forms of the same chemical yet they have the potential to have very different impacts on the environment and human health. The commission confirmed that it is considering amending REACH annexes to clarify how to manage the risks they pose, but not the regulation itself. An impact assessment will be conducted, leading to a possible proposal by December. General Report Working Document Report

Issue 20