21 January 2005 16:58 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--Director general of the UK Chemical Industries Association (CIA), Judith Hackitt, highlighted on Friday key issues for change in the current draft of the European Union’s proposals on the registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals (Reach).
Hackitt said she was impressed by the quality of debate and questions among MEPs (members of the European Parliament) at the public hearing on Reach held in Brussels on Wednesday (19 January).
Of the key issues that need to be addressed, MEPs identified two in particular, Hackitt said: finding out if the one substance, one registration (OSOR) scheme (proposed by the Hungarian and UK governments) will really work and whether it should it be voluntary or mandatory is one issue. The other is ensuring goods produced inside the European Union (EU) containing registered chemicals are treated fairly compared to goods sold in the EU but manufactured elsewhere.
"I'm pleased there seems to be a recognition that taking too long to debate and resolve these issues in Parliament will cause continued uncertainty for the industry and delay in achieving the benefits of Reach,” Hackitt added.
“The Commission must ensure complete clarity on its position on when, and to what extent, they will be prepared to change their proposal. It will be a great pity if confusion about this, between the Commission and the Parliament, gets in the way of an otherwise very positive start to this new phase in the Reach saga," she declared.
Hackitt presented an industry view of Reach issues at the public meeting. Under subsequent questioning she said she believed Reach could be manageable but warned of costs spiralling out of control.
The European chemical industry called for a major Reach redesign prior to the public hearing attended by more than 1200 people and it lobbied MEPs hard.
The hearing was the last major opportunity for public stakeholder representation on the proposals.
The European Commission (EC) draft on Reach is being worked through paragraph by paragraph by ad hoc working groups of the EU Council of Ministers. Three European Parliament committees are taking a lead role in discussing Reach before a first Parliamentary reading, probably in September or October this year. The Commission has made it clear that it will present amended Reach proposals following the first reading in Parliament and after it has the results of several sector Reach impact case studies.
The industry believes Reach is still very cumbersome and seeks prioritisation. There is particular concern about the impact of the legislation as drafted on the future of Europe’s small to medium sized enterprises (SME).
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