EU states push simpler Reach chemical rules

The EU council of ministers is considering radical changes to the substance registration procedure that will underpin Europe's Reach chemicals policy reform, a new progress report from the Irish presidency reveals.

Changes to the registration procedure of REACH are being considered, according to a report

Changes to the registration procedure of REACH are being considered, according to a report

Competitiveness ministers will be asked to debate the proposed requirement for thousands of chemicals to be registered when they discuss Reach on 17 May. The early alternatives are a scheme being developed by the UK to drastically reduce the number of registrations required and a Dutch plan to prioritise high-risk substances.

The different proposals have emerged from a "high-level reading" of Reach. The UK's version would install a "one-substance, one registration" principle, creating compulsory consortia of firms that produce the same chemical, so that most most substances would be registered earlier than foreseen under the European Commission's timetable.

Because of this, the Dutch plan would "become less relevant," the report says. It suggests that the council should therefore choose between the two, if it decides to ditch the Commission's proposal to base registration requirements on tonnage production of each substance.

Adopting the UK's blueprint would entail a "fundamental amendment" of the broader Reach package, it adds. Several member states have "expressed interest" in the idea but "queried its practicality". The Dutch scheme therefore "may point in the right direction," the presidency concludes.

Meanwhile, Germany has proposed to increase data requirements from manufacturers for substances in the 1-10 tonne per annum production volume category. The Commission excluded these from full registration as a last minute concession to industry. Hungary, which will be a full EU member by the time of the ministerial meeting, has also tabled a paper on registration.

Two other questions will be raised in the council meeting. One is whether Reach should incorporate a "more comprehensive and specific" duty-of-care requirement that "defines industry's responsibility for the safe handling of substances". The other is whether the role of the planned European chemicals agency should be expanded, especially for Reach's substance evaluation stage.

Republished with permission from Environment Daily



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