10 July 2003 18:48 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--Significant changes are required to the European Commission’s draft Reach (registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals) proposals to make them workable, the UK government said Thursday.
In its submission to the Reach Internet consultation, the government said it was particularly concerned about the complexity of the proposals, partly it said the result of the chosen approach of one registration per manufacturer rather than one registration per substance.
The UK also complained of "the lack of effective prioritisation on chemicals of most concern in the early stages of implementation and the potential inclusion of large numbers of low-priority substances".
It said that if these issues are not resolved then the new regulatory regime is unlikely to deliver the required results in a reasonable timescale, nor to make the most efficient use of the limited resources that will be available to European Union (EU) member states, industry or the proposed new chemicals agency.
The government said it was vital to ensure the new regulatory regime is compatible with the EU’s WTO (World Trade Organisation) commitments - in particular that it is not seen as disproportionate - "since it would be pointless to expend so much effort developing a system that is later successfully challenged".
These points also need to be related to the Commission’s estimated costs of the new regime, the British government said, which could have a detrimental long term impact on the competitiveness of the chemicals industry and its downstream customers, leading to lower employment and output in Europe.
There is also real concern that the administrative complexity of the proposals will limit the potential benefits, the UK government added. There is a lot of room for confusion and possible disputes between authorities, industry and other stakeholders, it suggested. In such a complex structure, it is easy to lose sight of a primary objective to generate practical risk reduction measures that will lead to improved control, it said.
Initial studies of the proposals indicate that the overlaps with current occupational health and safety (OHS) legislation will need to be more carefully considered and managed, the UK added. The risk of confusion, particularly for downstream users, could undermine benefits. Without an integrated and straightforward approach, Reach may present an extra layer of requirements, it added. "This would present difficulties for prioritisation, and result in loss of credibility in the overall OHS framework."
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