Legislation Note: No Data, No Market. The Future of EU Chemicals Control under the REACH Regulation
1 June 2007 marks the entry into effect of the REACH Regulation, the new EU-wide scheme for the control and circulation of chemicals on the European market. More precisely, it is the starting point for the introduction of a range of chemicals reporting, assessment and management measures which will gradually be enforced across the EU over a time span of 11 years. REACH, an acronym for the Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals, lays down a comprehensive framework to achieve three pivotal targets for European market regulation: to offer a high level of health and environmental protection from chemical risks; to facilitate market integration; and to foster innovation in the chemicals sector. In this sense, REACH is an embodiment of three overarching programmes that currently drive policy developments within the Community Pillar of the European Union. With regard to its health and environmental protection aspirations, REACH could arguably serve as a calling card for the EU’s interpretation and practical application of the precautionary principle within a broad policy context. After a post-1992 lull, completing the internal market is again at the forefront of Community activity, with the Commission currently undertaking a large-scale review of the Single Market in order to produce a ‘Report on the Single Market for the 21st Century’, in which the Commission will seek to convey its vision on the future of market integration and map out the policies necessary to achieve it. Finally, the goal of fostering innovation and competitiveness reflects a key consideration of the 2000 Lisbon Strategy, which aspires for Europe to be ‘the most competitive and dynamic knowledge-based economy in the world’ by 2010.