17th Apr 2021

US aims to influence EU chemical policy

When the European Parliament’s Industry committee meets today (23 November) to discuss REACH, the EU’s sweeping reform of chemical regulatory policy, it is not only European lobbyists who are interested.

American lobbyists will also monitor events closely.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Become an expert on Europe

Get instant access to all articles — and 20 years of archives. 14-day free trial.

... or subscribe as a group

American embassies in Europe were as early as March instructed to lobby against the new chemical regulatory policy from the highest political levels.

In a cable dated 15 March 2004, the US Secretary of State, Colin Powell, requested EU State Department posts to act against the new EU chemical regulation scheme.

The European Commission proposal would create "an expansive new regulatory system for chemicals", Mr Powell warned.

"The legislation would potentially affect manufacturers, importers and downstream users of more than 30,000 chemical substances", he said in the cable.

"The impact of REACH goes beyond the chemical sector and could touch virtually all US exports (in 2003 – to EU25 154,1 bn $)", the instruction said.

Massive interest from stakeholders

In October 2003, the European Commission presented its latest draft to a new EU regulatory framework for chemicals, REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals).

The EU’s regulation of chemicals has been the subject of huge interest by stakeholders.

The proposal was presented after an eight-week long public internet hearing ending in July 2003 which resulted in a total of 6400 comments from the industry, NGOs, and governments.

Lena Ek, a Swedish liberal MEP and rapporteur on the European Parliament’s report on chemicals, said to Danish daily Information that, if she had wanted, she could have spent all her time "travelling and seeing industrial production facilities situated fortuitously close to attractive tourist places."

Each week she receives 15-20 requests for meetings related to the chemical regulation in addition to e-mail, letters and informal requests wherever she goes.

Not all lobbies are from the industry. Ms Ek estimates that 60 percent are from the industry and 40 percent from the environmentalists and consumers side.

Enterprises that manufacture or import more than one tonne of a chemical substance per year would be required to register it in a central database under the new scheme.

Registering a new chemical is, however, not the same as testing it, something which environmentalists and consumer organisations have criticised.

The new regulation would reverse the burden of proof from public authorities to industry for ensuring the safety of chemicals on the market, something environmentalist organisations have protested against.

It would also replace over 40 existing Directives and Regulations.

The number of "existing" chemicals in 1981 was 100,106, according to the European Commission - and the awareness of chemicals affecting health and nature is growing.

Since 1981, only 3,000 new chemicals has been put on the market.

MEPs to declare EU an LGBTI 'freedom zone'

The symbolic move is an attempt to buttress against right-wing governments' increased scapegoating of LGBTI people, particularly in Poland and Hungary.

News in Brief

  1. EU postpones decision on labelling gas 'sustainable'
  2. MEPs call for mass surveillance ban in EU public spaces
  3. Greek and Turkish ministers trade jibes in Ankara
  4. Biden repeats opposition to Russia-Germany pipeline
  5. Navalny in danger, letter warns EU foreign ministers
  6. Lithuania keen to use Denmark's AstraZeneca vaccines
  7. Gas plants largest source of power-sector emissions
  8. Study: Higher risk of blood clots from Covid than vaccines

EU adds new 'dark red' zone to travel-restrictions map

The European Commission has proposed additional measures to limit non-essential travel within and to the European Union - amid fears over more transmissible mutations triggering a new surge in cases across the bloc.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. Nordic Council of MinistersDigitalisation can help us pick up the green pace
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersCOVID19 is a wake-up call in the fight against antibiotic resistance
  3. Nordic Council of MinistersThe Nordic Region can and should play a leading role in Europe’s digital development
  4. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Council to host EU webinars on energy, digitalisation and antibiotic resistance
  5. UNESDAEU Code of Conduct can showcase PPPs delivering healthier more sustainable society
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersWomen benefit in the digitalised labour market

Latest News

  1. US rejects Slovenia-linked plan to break up Bosnia
  2. Ukraine urges Borrell to visit Russia front line
  3. Could US sanctions hit Russia vaccine sales to EU?
  4. Polish court pushes out critical ombudsman
  5. Political crises in Romania and Bulgaria amid third wave
  6. Von der Leyen's summer plans undisclosed, after Ukraine snub
  7. Over a million EU citizens back farm-animal cage ban
  8. Three options for West on Putin's Ukraine build-up

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us