Wednesday

27th Mar 2019

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

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

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.

Centre-right EPP faces showdown with Orban

The EU's largest political alliance, the EPP, will try to put the 'Orban issue' behind it going into the European election campaign. Hungary's ruling party, Fidesz, could be expelled or suspended from the political family.

EU countries push for new rule of law surveillance

Germany and Belgium have put forward a proposal for a "peer review" of EU countries' legal systems as member states and EU institutions struggle with disciplining member states that break EU rules.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

News in Brief

  1. EU tables plan for joint approach to 5G security
  2. MEPs agree to scrap summer time clock changes by 2021
  3. European Parliament votes on reform of copyright
  4. New French-German parliament meets for first time
  5. EU parliament reduces polling ahead of elections
  6. UK parliament votes to take control of Brexit process
  7. EU publishes no-deal Brexit contingency plans
  8. EU urges Israel and Gaza to re-establish calm

Opinion

Catalan independence trial is widening Spain's divides

What is really needed is not the theatre of a rebellion trial, but a forensic examination of whether public funds were misused, and a process of dialogue and negotiation on how the Catalan peoples' right to self-determination can be satisfied.

Orban hosts Weber in Budapest for EPP showdown

The future of the Viktor Orban's Fidesz party inside the European Parliament's centre-right EPP political group hangs in the balance. On Tuesday, Orban and EPP chief Manfred Weber meet in Budapest in a final effort to iron out differences.

Stakeholders' Highlights

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

Latest News

  1. EU lawmakers pass contentious copyright law
  2. France takes Chinese billions despite EU concerns
  3. Europe before the elections - heading back to the past?
  4. Romania presidency shatters EU line on Jerusalem
  5. The Spitzen process - a coup that was never accepted
  6. Russia and money laundering in Europe
  7. Italy takes China's new Silk Road to the heart of Europe
  8. What EU leaders agreed on climate - and what they mean

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us