REACH - Safety Yes, Red Tape No. Ria Oomen-Ruijten MEP
Today, the Environment Committee of the European Parliament completed on the second reading report of the new Chemicals Directive, known as REACH (registration, evaluation, authorisation of chemicals). EPP-ED Group spokesperson Ria Oomen-Ruijten MEP called the result a Pyrrhic victory of rapporteur Sacconi, because it will not hold in the plenary vote.
EPP-ED spokesperson Ria Oomen-Ruijten said: "Compared with the original Commission proposal and under pressure from Parliament, the Council tightened the authorisation regime significantly. The Council maintains that the risk of chemical substances should be controlled and that the substances concerned should be replaced by substances with a lower risk. For high risk chemicals, authorisation may only be granted if substitution is not possible and if socio-economic benefits outweigh the risks to human health or the environment." The EPP-ED group wants to stay close to this position.
Rapporteur Sacconi, supported by socialists, liberals and greens, has a different view, especially on the question of the system of substitution of chemical substances of high risk, and wants to introduce a lot of red tape. Authorisation would be limited to five years and a socio-economic analysis is linked automatically to each application for authorisation. This additional burden, which could rise to a maximum of € 70.000 for a compulsory socio-economic analysis, would make authorisation for those products virtually impossible. Around 400 chemical substances, vital for the production of mainly high-tech products, would be effectively banned from use in the EU.
Ria Oomen said: "The production of those chemicals and of the high tech-end products would be dislocated to non-EU countries and the articles which still contain these chemical substances would be imported. This is possible because as part of the final product the chemicals have only to be notified (but not authorised), only if they exceed 1 tonne per year, and if they exceed a concentration of 0.1% in the whole article."
Oomen-Ruijten continued:" I fear that this unnecessary introduction of more red tape will lead to an even bigger import of high-risk chemical substances. As part of an end-product they can enter the EU unchecked and without authorisation. This may cause even more damage to human health and the environment."
The new chemical regulation must restore confidence in the chemical sector and in the use of chemical substances. To date, there is a lack of adequate information on the environmental and health impact of most of the chemicals used in industry today. Currently, around 40 European directives govern the sector. As a result of the regulation, more than 30,000 substances, including their most important characteristics, will be registered at the European Chemical Agency within 11 years. The chemical industry in the EU is worth €440bn per year and 1.3 million people are employed in 27,000 companies.
Eduard Slootweg, EPP-ED Press Service, tel.: +32 475 721280