25 March 2002 00:00 [Source: ICB Americas]The German chemicals industry has agreed with the German federal government and trade unions on a common position on several key issues related to a new registration system for chemicals being proposed by the European Commission.
The agreement could mean that the German chemical industry association (VCI) and the government and unions will be able to present a uniform front throughout the predicted lengthy negotiations on the new plan.
Under the proposals, detailed in a White Paper or discussion document, around 80 percent of 30,000 chemicals with more than a 1-ton-per-year output will have to be registered with basic product data. Most of the rest will be subjected to in-depth evaluations for separate authorizations.
Although backing the aims of the White Paper, the European Union (EU)'s chemicals sector has warned that the proposals will have to be changed to make the plan workable and economically viable.
"The position paper agreed [to] by the industry, government and unions in Germany is supposed to be discussed now with other EU countries," Jürgen Strube, BASF chairman, told a recent press conference in Germany. "It clearly shows that although [the industry] is in favor of many of the basic aspects of the White Paper, we believe that in the protection of the environment and consumers, it needs to take into account economic issues."
The German agreement comes at a time when EU governments have been beginning to speak out against certain features of the White Paper. A UK government minister claimed recently that it could stifle innovation.
"We are hoping that in Germany we can extend this common position we have built up with the government and unions so that it covers other issues arising out of future negotiations on the White Paper," says a VCI official.
The three parties agreed to oppose any reduction in chemicals requiring registration below the 1-ton-per-year minimum. The European Parliament's environment committee recently suggested testing chemicals below that level.
They also want the plan to become part of EU legislation so that EU governments will not be able to decide in their own way how to enforce it. Also, the registration or authorization of chemicals should not be subject to periodic reviews, as suggested by some environmental groups.
Next month, the three sides will meet to discuss the results of a VCI-commissioned study on the implications of a White Paper proposal.
This is one of the major issues being examined by one of the seven working groups that have been meeting in Brussels, Belgium, to consider responses to the White Paper. Represented are the chemical and customer sectors, the Commission, governments and environmental and other organizations.
For the latest chemical news, data and analysis that directly impacts your business sign up for a free trial to ICIS news - the breaking online news service for the global chemical industry.
Get the facts and analysis behind the headlines from our market leading weekly magazine: sign up to a free trial to ICIS Chemical Business.
Asian Chemical Connections