MEPs "starting to make progress on Reach"

The European parliament's environment committee is starting to forge a consensus on the huge EU Reach chemicals policy.

Opening a debate this week, rapporteur Guido Sacconi said political group representatives had already reached a "convergence of views" on several issues.

Mr Sacconi said he was "fairly optimistic" that he would be able to present within weeks a compromise package boiling down the one thousand-plus amendments submitted by MEPs into a broadly acceptable consensus view.

But the "politically more difficult" questions - on substitution policy, substance registration and articles in substances - are still causing divisions and need more time, the Italian socialist said.

The committee is now expected to vote in September. Nine other parliamentary committees are scheduled to give their views before the summer break. The parliament's plenary committee could then vote in October.

The informal agreements revealed by Mr Sacconi concern general duty of care provisions, the role of the future European chemicals agency, provisions to prevent duplication of animal tests, and a demand that member states file Reach implemention reports every five rather than ten years.

There was also broad agreement on the "one substance, one registration" (Osor) proposal, though with an emphasis on "circulating information rather than setting up consortia", said Mr Sacconi. To safeguard confidentiality, firms would send data straight to central authorities rather than pooling it first.

Regarding more difficult issues, the rapporteur said that substitution clauses must have a "stronger incentive" for companies to innovate. Mr Sacconi said he favoured a joint Maltese-Slovene proposal on registration aimed at making life easier for SMEs. He also proposed "reworking" provisions on substances in articles.

Meanwhile, EU environment commissioner Stavros Dimas this week gave MEPs an update on Reach. In a speech to the Kangaroo group, a European parliament single market debating forum, he summarised developments without revealing any new Commission thinking.

Republished with permission of Environment Daily



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