2008 European Chemicals Agency work programme


Courtesy of European Chemicals Agency (ECHA)

The first months of ECHA’s activities marked a successful start-up and build-up of staff and organisational structures, procedures and systems. The Agency demonstrated that it was able to achieve the many objectives set in the 2007 work programme, including a gradual handover of the REACH implementation tasks from the Commission. Year 2008 poses two major complementary challenges for ECHA. First, the REACH regulation stipulates that the Agency has to be fully operational by 1 June 2008. A key asset for achieving this challenge is the highly competent staff of the Agency, which we will continue to recruit and train. Simultaneously we have to ensure, by developing the scientific and IT tools and procedures, that the Agency is capable of handling pre-registration, registration and other processes triggered on 1 June 2008. For that purpose, we need to complete in time the guidance and upgrade the assistance to registrants. The readiness of the Agency bodies (Committees, Forum and Board of Appeal) to issue quality opinions and work by that pivotal date will also be critical to ECHA’s success.

The second core challenge for ECHA is to demonstrate during the last seven months of 2008 its capability to take decisions and actions on registrations or notifications within the strict timeframes set by REACH and to publish the list of pre-registered substances by 31 December 2008. During 2008 ECHA will start or expand its networking with Member States Competent Authorities and stakeholders, with international bodies and other EU institutions active in
chemical risk assessment. The communication strategy will also be implemented and address the information needs of the public.

I am convinced that ECHA will be able to meet these 2008 challenges as planned. The Agency management will also ensure that ECHA achieves a high level of scientific and technical competence and efficiency. Our guiding principles for all ECHA operations shall be transparency and credibility, both internally and towards the external stakeholders. The preparedness of ECHA staff and bodies should permit a smooth transfer from the chemical legislation that is fading out in 2008 or 2009 to REACH. To make REACH a success depends not just on the Agency, but also on the European Commission, the Member States and the industry. They have assisted us in this intense start-up period, for which I am thankful, and now we can assist them wherever we can and is justified with the fee revenue and resources we will get from the EU budgetary authority. We trust that our partners will deliver their share of the necessary preparatory steps to make this legislation a milestone in European regulatory history and a reference for the rest of the world.

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