14 November 2001 16:04 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--German and British conservative MEPs have rallied behind the chemical industry in attempts to tone down some of the more far reaching proposals for a European chemicals control policy.
The European Parliament (EP) votes tomorrow (15 November) on the European Union’s white paper proposals on chemicals policy. The vote will be on the substance of the white paper and the highly criticised amendments supported by the EP Environment Committee and white paper rapporteur, Green Party MEP Inger Schoerling.
The white paper sets out a strategy for future chemicals policy in Europe. It calls for the introduction of a single registration and evaluation systems for existing and new chemical products requiring the registration of 30 000 substances produced in volumes of more than one tonne over the next 11 years. The EP’s Environment Committee had demanded a more comprehensive regulatory framework for chemicals, a ban on the use of 'dangerous substances' by 2012 and widespread introduction of the precautionary principle.
Conservatives in the centre right European People’s Party (EPP) (Christian Democrats) and the European Democrats have tabled 113 amendments to the white paper and, particularly, the Environment Committee proposals. Their amendments are in response to lobbying from the industry in Germany and the UK.
The industry has been slow to act at the European level but national associations have gained support for the sector amid calls for a greater understanding of its needs for room to operate in a workable regulatory environment. There has been a great deal of concern over the impact of the proposed regulatory framework on small to medium sized companies.
A vote on the white paper was expected in the EP today but has been delayed because of pressure from other business. However, Parliament has heard from the main protagonists of the white paper and the Environment Committee proposals.
Schoerling pressed in Strasbourg yesterday for extending the proposed REACH chemicals registration and control system to substances produced in volumes of less than one tonne if necessary but even Environment Commissioner Wallstrom was not sympathetic to that approach.
Following the EP vote, the white paper and its amendments will return to the European Commission which will then draw up draft legislation taking into account a wide range of views. Those proposals have to be put before parliament before they can be implemented in EU member states.
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