19 January 2005 15:29 [Source: ICIS news]
He said a consensus was needed to protect the environment as well as the competitiveness of the internal market.
The chemical agency proposed to administer Reach could be given a more important role, suggested Verhuegen, as a well-equipped agency is an essential component of the policy initiative.
Verheugen, who was speaking here at the European Parliament’s long-awaited public hearing on Reach proposals, said the policy could possibly lead to higher costs to non-EU producers who import into
Competitiveness will be encouraged through creating incentives to industry to produce new substances, which could see a lower level of information required for the registration of new substances.
He said ongoing impact assessments present an important opportunity to examine the potential economic effect on several industry sectors.
Verheugen also made a personal commitment to avoid further increasing the number of animal tests, regarding the registration of substances, stating there needs to be clear and viable alternatives.
In addition, Karl-Heinz Florenz, chairman of the EU Parliamentary Committee on Environment, Public Health and Food Safety stated the aim is to make it easier and safer to deal with chemicals, but also maintain the competitiveness of the internal market. Parliamentary colleagues need not only to address the cost of Reach, they must also address the benefits of the proposed legislation.
Reviewing impact assessment studies and Dutch environment secretary Pieter Van Geel noted that three key issues came to the fore in the Dutch presidency: The ‘one substance: one registration’ proposals developed by the UK and Hungary, priority registration processes, regarding registering the most dangerous substances as early as possible, and the problems of substance in articles.
According to Van Geel, these and other issues such as information requirements for the registration of chemicals have been or will be addressed by the 36-40 impact studies, which will finally be concluded at the end of March.
“The results of the impact assessment programmes need to be considered before the EU presents its definitive proposals for Chemicals,” He said.
It is generally agreed that the impact on SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises) should be reduced by making Reach as simple as possible, cutting registration cost, and co-operation and data sharing, which will avoid duplication.
Jeannot Krecke, Luxemburg’s economic and external trade affairs minister, said further clarification of costs was needed, particularly as they affect SMEs.
"But the advantages of Reach in terms of illness and health cost avoided have to be balanced against jobs and industry competitiveness,” said Krecke whose country will now play a key role in Reach development through its presidency of the Council of Ministers.
Lucien Lux, president and minister of the European Council and Luxemburg's environment minister, said the Luxemburg will work through ad-hoc working groups. These will gather information on the likely impact of Reach on the supply chain, importers and upstream users.
There will be further dialogue with the
Efforts will be made to reduce the possible bureaucracy of Reach without undermining the basic principles, including the precautionary principal. Luxemburg plans to host a conference in May, where all stakeholders will be invited.
The public hearing on Reach was attended by members of the European Parliament (MEPs), EU Commissioners, industry and non-governmental (NGO) representatives.
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