25 November 2003 15:56 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--Industry groups have proposed a mechanism through which Europe might develop an in-depth assessment of the impact of Reach, the controversial chemicals registration, evaluation and authorisation system drawn up by the European Commission (EC).
Unice (the Union of Industrial and Employer’s Confederations of Europe) and the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) has suggested that a steering committee be established to help involve stakeholders in the development of an in-depth impact assessment.
At a stakeholder workshop last Friday (21 November), Commission representatives were largely supportive of a wider study of Reach impacts – requested by European heads of state in a letter to Commission president Romano Prodi in October – but did not come forward with concrete proposals.
EC and industry-sponsored assessments of Reach impacts have differed markedly in their conclusions and the Commission has admitted that its studies have covered only part of the potential impact of the proposed widespread changes in Europe’s chemicals regulatory environment.
But Philippe de Buck, secretary general of Unice said the Reach proposal is not just about the chemical industry. “It will have significant effects right along the supply chain; consequently the full impact on industry should be properly evaluated," he declared following the 21 November meeting.
Cefic director general Alain Perroy said the aim of a wider assessment is first and foremost to identify opportunities for improving Reach “and to correct elements of the proposal that will hamper smooth and cost-effective implementation, whilst safeguarding the objectives of the legislation”.
Unice and Cefic suggest that a new impact assessment is based on an open economic model allowing the assessment of what they believe will be the “considerable macroeconomic effects of Reach on a diversified, globally operating EU industry”.
An essential part of the assessment should consist of further bottom-up analysis of sub sectors in the chemical industry and downstream sectors, they said.
The Commission has not yet reacted to the proposal but immediately following the 21 November workshop environment groups said they wanted to see a move on from general debate over the cost-benefits of Reach to a greater focus on real impacts on downstream users of chemicals.
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