11 August 2003 00:01 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--The UK's Confederation of British Industry (CBI), which counts most major UK chemical companies among its members, is hopeful of winning significant concessions from the European Commission (EC) over its highly controversial chemical policy proposals.
The European Commission (EC) is listening to the chemicals industry and may make adjustments on testing requirements and the use of existing data when it produces draft legislation from its registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach) proposals, CNI was told by Alice Castel, senior policy advisor on chemicals to the CBI.
"A lot of points have been made to the Commission and have been taken on board, though where they agree with us we'd like to see it in writing. Maybe the Commission and industry are not as far apart as they appear."
Castel said the Commission might move towards the idea of a substance only being tested once rather than separately by each manufacturer, adding: "They may be swayed towards this view if member states push for that."
She said the UK government wants one test per substance but a lot of member states have not submitted any comments to the recent internet consultation.
The acceptance of existing test data is another area where Castel said the Commission "is showing a willingness to move." Under existing proposals, chemicals must be completely retested. Previous test results will not be acceptable.
Castel mainly lobbies UK civil servants but has good contacts with the Commission through the CBI's office in Brussels which has direct contact with local officials.
She was talking to CNI just before the CBI formally announced on Monday the escalation of its fight to prevent the Reach proposals from decimating Britain's chemicals industry.
The CBI is writing to the UK government this week, urging it to ensure the Reach proposals are scaled back.It said today that the proposals will cost European Union (EU) industry up to £6bn ($9.65bn/Euro8.57bn) and is urging the government to act on duplication of testing. It also wants most polymers and intermediates to be exempted.
The CBI warned that if unaltered Reach would force EU chemical companies to bear the cost of testing over 30 000 substances which could lead to thousands of jobs being lost to the Far East.
"It would impact on all companies that use chemicals and could be the death knell for some companies in the chemical industry," said the CBI.
Confederation deputy director-general John Cridland said: "The right mix of carrot and stick can produce gains for both business and the environment but politicians must understand that these chemicals proposals fail the test of good regulation and must be redesigned."
"An extra burden on this scale will drive jobs away to countries such as China which will not have to test even if the final products are imported into the EU," he added. "By pricing some chemicals out of the market these new rules threaten the research and innovation on which the future of our worldclass chemicals industry depends."Cridland said business wants a clean, safe environment "but any new rules must be workable, cost-effective and targeted on those chemicals that pose the greatest risk".
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