27 June 2003 12:20 [Source: ICIS news]
HAMBURG, Germany (CNI)--German Chancellor Gerhard Schroder warned on Friday that it was very important for Europe's industrial competitiveness that Brussels' dealings with financial and environmental issues "should not dominate industrial policy".
Europe has a diverse manufacturing base that is very important and this "needs to be weighed against all proposals that are far from reality", he said in a clear reference to the European Commission's (EC's) controversial plans for a new registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach) system.
Schroder, who was speaking here at the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) annual general assembly, highlighted the proposed new chemicals policy as a specific issue, saying "we want lower costs [for this] ... these are simply too high if we are to meet objectives of competitiveness".
He also called for a review of all proposals being developed by the Eurpean Union (EU) that impact on industrial policy.
"We need an assessment of their consequences," he stated. All too often, he added, the person responsible for a regulation or directive identified themselves too closely with the proposals, driving them too hard.
"We need earlier consultation with industry," he said.
Schroder conceded that the EC's latest draft regulations on chemicals policy reform are an improvement on the original white paper proposals. However, he said they still have their weak points.
"It is clear that the competitiveness of the EU chemicals industry must not be endangered," he stressed.
Schroder said he believed the proposed new regulations would be too much of a burden on the industry - especially small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs). He added that the new rules do not have sufficient regard to protection of commercial data, and said they would cause problems on an international trade level.
He called on EC Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen to "review and revise the proposals" and said Germany would take a proactive role in this.
Schroder's address to Cefic's annual assembly coincided with new forecasts from the council which radically downgraded expectations for European chemicals industry growth in 2003.
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