European chemicals policy reform `Countdown to REACH` conference report

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Courtesy of European Environmental Bureau

After seven years of heated debate, and nearly five years after the publication of the white paper, the reform of chemicals policy legislation in the EU is entering its final stage. In November, the European Parliament as well as the Council under the British Presidency is going to decide in a first round about the future chemical policy called REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restrictions of Chemicals). This coming legislation should cover about 30,000 existing and new chemicals that companies produce or import into the EU in volumes larger than one ton per year per company. The recent developments in the Parliamentarian Committees as well as in the Competitiveness and the Environment Councils were discussed during the EEB conference Countdown to REACH which was held on 10 October 2005 in Brussels.

Even though we need stricter legislation, the European Commission's REACH proposal would be beneficial for society, EEB President Mikael Karlsson emphasised. “Costs in general would amount to something like one Euro per EU citizen per year for eleven years” – and benefits have been estimated to be much higher, not to mention the strengthened competitiveness that a strict REACH proposal would bring for companies that are concerned about health, environment and future markets. But “in spite of this clear picture, some Member States and European Parliamentarians hesitate, and fall into line with chemical industries”.

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