Wednesday

20th Mar 2019

EU chemicals bill under fire from US-led coalition

A group of states including the US, Brazil and India on Thursday (8 June) launched an attack on the EU's landmark REACH chemicals law, calling it "potentially disruptive" to world trade.

The coalition of states calls for substantial changes to the EU's law on Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH), a major piece of legislation agreed by member states in December.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • REACH: arguably the most complex and hotly-fought over bill in the EU's 50 year history (Photo: Notat)

The bill is designed to cut occupational diseases through better monitoring of chemical products but needs to undergo a second reading by the European Parliament in autumn before final adoption.

Ambassadors of major EU trading partners the US, India, Brazil, Japan and Australia issued a statement saying that "trading partners uniformly agreed that modifications reducing the potentially disruptive impact of REACH on international trade and improving its workability would improve the legislation."

Mexico, Singapore, South Africa, Thailand and Chile, Israel, Japan, Korea and Malaysia also signed up to the statement which "called for the EU to use the second reading in parliament to address the problematic aspects of the proposal."

"Developing countries highlighted concerns regarding the cost of REACH especially on SMEs [small and medium-size enterprises]," the statement says.

'More risk-based'

The group of states, which foresees that its companies operating in the EU will be damaged by REACH, is particularly unhappy with the bill's rules on authorisation of chemicals.

The authorization rules mean for example that companies will be forced to substitute around 200 of the most toxic substances such as carcinogens with safer alternatives.

"Moves to require mandatory substitution or across the board uniform time limits would cause unnecessary market disruptions without clear environmental benefits," Thursday's statement warned.

"Trading partners seek a more risk-based authorisation process that does not dampen the competitive environment."

Parliament to face lobby

Registration rules for chemicals as proposed in the REACH draft were also criticised.

"Registration and notification of substances embedded in articles when no potential risks have yet been identified could cause many entities including numerous SMEs from developing countries to forego the EU market without corresponding environmental benefit."

The European Parliament is set to be lobbied intensely by diplomats from the REACH-wary states over the summer, with the second reading of the bill scheduled for October or November.

"The ambassadors pledged their willingness to work closely with the European Parliament and other EU institutions to help make REACH more workable and thus more successful," the statement concluded.

US aims to influence EU chemical policy

American embassies in Europe have been instructed from the highest political levels to lobby against the EU's new chemical regulatory policy.

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

News in Brief

  1. North Macedonia EU-membership talks set for June
  2. EU ups benefits rights for mobile workers
  3. Chinese leader visits Italy, France as Rome joins 'Silk Road'
  4. EU agrees to sanction political parties breaching data rules
  5. EPP votes Wednesday on future of Orban's party
  6. Nordic MEP candidates in first ever joint EU election debate
  7. Merkel: I will fight to the 'last hour' for orderly Brexit
  8. EU affairs ministers demand Brexit clarity from London

Feature

Romania enlists priests to promote euro switchover plan

Romania is due to join the single currency in 2024 - despite currently only meeting one of the four criteria. Now the government in Bucharest is enlisting an unlikely ally to promote the euro to the public: the clergy.

Trump and Kurz: not best friends, after all

The visit of Austrian chancellor Sebastian Kurz to the White House on Wednesday showed that the current rift in transatlantic relations is deepening by the day.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersLeading Nordic candidates go head-to-head in EU election debate
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersNew Secretary General: Nordic co-operation must benefit everybody
  3. Platform for Peace and JusticeMEP Kati Piri: “Our red line on Turkey has been crossed”
  4. UNICEF2018 deadliest year yet for children in Syria as war enters 9th year
  5. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic commitment to driving global gender equality
  6. International Partnership for Human RightsMeet your defender: Rasul Jafarov leading human rights defender from Azerbaijan
  7. UNICEFUNICEF Hosts MEPs in Jordan Ahead of Brussels Conference on the Future of Syria
  8. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic talks on parental leave at the UN
  9. International Partnership for Human RightsTrial of Chechen prisoner of conscience and human rights activist Oyub Titiev continues.
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic food policy inspires India to be a sustainable superpower
  11. Nordic Council of MinistersMilestone for Nordic-Baltic e-ID
  12. Counter BalanceEU bank urged to free itself from fossil fuels and take climate leadership

Latest News

  1. US glyphosate verdict gives ammunition to EU activists
  2. Have a good reason for Brexit extension, Barnier tells UK
  3. EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance
  4. EU rolls out €525m for military projects, but bars illegal tech
  5. May to seek Brexit extension amid UK 'constitutional crisis'
  6. Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides
  7. My plan for defending rule of law in EU
  8. Anti-corruption lawyer wins first round of Slovak elections

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us