06 May 2003 18:11 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--The European Commission’s debate Wednesday (7 May) on chemicals policy is a test case for how serious it is in its aim of turning Europe into the world’s most competitive economy, Cefic president Eggert Voscherau said Tuesday.
The EC could unleash a bureaucratic nightmare on European industry that would threaten growth and innovation, he maintained, or initiate a departure towards higher growth and more employment based on Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen’s approach of ‘a new industrial policy in an enlarged Europe’.
Estimates of the direct and indirect costs of the proposed white paper policy proposals are from Euro18bn ($20.2bn) to Euro32bn by the EC’s own estimates and even higher by industry projections. This is too much money, Voscherau said, for a project that generates an excessive amount of bureaucracy rather than additional protection for people or the environment.
The proposed regulations appear to be a setback for Europe as a location for an internationally competitive chemical industry, he maintained.
Voscherau, who is also vice chairman of German industrial giant, BASF, was speaking ahead of the expected release tomorrow of details of the Commission's draft European chemicals policy proposals and the launch of a period of internet consultation on the fine detail of the proposed Reach chemicals testing and registration regime.
In a statement strongly supportive of the chemicals sector and of European industry generally he said that Europe could not afford to expose the chemical industry to such a high risk.
"When it comes to the subject of chemicals policy, there is more at stake than just the environment. The issue is sustainability, and thus specifically the jobs and prosperity of people in Europe. These things are not a hereditary right," he stated.
Voscherau conceded that there is a need to modernise, consolidate and simplify Europe’s numerous chemical regulations.
But the objective is a practicable regulatory framework, he maintained, that does not make excessive demands on small and medium-sized firms and does not put European companies at a disadvantage in terms of global competition.
"We don’t need more laws, but better laws and regulations. We need a set of rules that promote rather than choke innovation, as is unfortunately the case now," he declared.
The chemical industry is committed to the principle of sustainable development, the Cefic president said. It welcomes a reorientation of Europe’s chemicals legislation but the philosophy behind the new chemicals policy still appears to be too one-sided, concentrating on environmental and health protection and focusing less on Europe’s industrial competitiveness, employment and prospects for growth.
"Meeting the economic, ecological and social needs of today’s society without impairing the development opportunities of future generations – maintaining this balance – is the basic principle of sustainable development," he said.
Voscherau's comments came just hours after environmental groups had accused the chemicals industry of delaying the introduction of the white paper reforms.
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.
|ICIS news FREE TRIAL|
|Get access to breaking chemical news as it happens.|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX)|
|ICIS Global Petrochemical Index (IPEX). Download the free tabular data and a chart of the historical index|