REACH wrecked by compromise says MEP

The Green Party's shadow rapporteur on the EU's attempts to improve chemical safety for both the environment and human health has said the latest agreement has ripped the heart out of the proposals.

According to Caroline Lucas MEP the deal agreed by commissioners, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will fail to afford public health sufficient protection from dangerous chemicals – and undermine the legitimacy of the EU.

The ‘trialogue’ talks in Brussels last night agreed to water down rules that would have forced chemicals manufacturers to abandon production of the most dangerous chemicals used in everyday items in favour of safer alternatives.

But now many chemical substances of high concern will continue to be used in everyday products, even where safer alternatives exist.

The deal also establishes the European Chemicals Agency to implement the rules but agreed that its members – and any potential conflicts of interest arising from their dealings with the chemicals industry itself – should remain secret and hidden from the public.

Dr Lucas said: “This agreement represents a missed opportunity to put public health above the interests of the chemicals lobby – and will only serve to undermine public confidence in EU yet further.

“The review of the EU’s chemicals legislation has been in the pipeline since 1998 and some of the provisions of REACH will not come into play until 11 years after the entry into force of the regulation. It is a scandal that EU citizens will have waited 20 years for rules that will continue to allow hazardous chemicals to be used in everyday products, even when safer alternatives exist.

“The agency charged with implementing the regulations will be a secret body, whose members – and any of their declared financial interests or dealings with the chemicals industry – are anonymous and hidden from the public.

“Not only is this a potentially corrupt step away from the principles of transparency and democracy at the heart of the EU, it will call into question every decision the body takes and risk undermining the entire process.”

She added: “It is deeply ironic that when the EU is trying to strengthen its transparency and public openness it should be taking this step in exactly the opposite direction.”

Sam Bond

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