02 February 2005 16:52 [Source: ICIS news]
LONDON (CNI)--European Commission (EC) president Jose Manuel Barroso outlined a refocused European Union (EU) competitiveness agenda on Wednesday which encompasses a reappraisal of the controversial Reach (registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals) proposals.
The Commission said it is seeking a “balanced agreement” on Reach which takes into account the impact on competitiveness, innovation and small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs).
Verheugen said the Commission would not yet submit new draft Reach proposals, even though the current draft "would not fly".
The European Parliament does not want to lose further time on Reach, he added. The Commission will discuss its new ideas on Reach with the European Parliament and the European Council, he indicated, either before or after the first reading of Reach in Parliament. That first reading is expected after September this year.
Concerns about the workability and effectiveness of Reach were raised most recently in Brussels at a public hearing organised by the European Parliament on 19 January at which calls for a revision of the current Reach draft were widespread.
Barroso said the challenge on Reach “is to strike the right balance and to ensure we can promote both competitiveness and innovation and deliver a marked improvement in health and the environment for all of us”.
Addressing the conference of presidents of the European Parliament (EP) on Wednesday, he said the Commission was ready to work with the Parliament, the European Council and other stakeholders to find the right approach without losing sight of the main aims of the initiative.
In a reassessment of the so-called Lisbon agenda for Europe, Barroso noted that the competitiveness strategy was not on track to deliver the results expected of it.
“The lesson of the past five years is that we must refocus this agenda to deliver the expected results,” he said.
“The real issue is not about facts and figures on paper. It is about their impact on people’s lives: how we pay for our education, pensions, social services and health care.”
Vice-president and industry commissioner Günter Verheugen said that the EC’s message in putting forward a revised economic and sustainable development agenda was that there are no “miracle solutions”.
“The Commission will do its part so that business can get on with business," he said in a remark that will be welcomed by industrialists in the chemicals sector.
The EC action programme encompasses completion of the European single market, improved regulation, job creation and a focus on research and development (R&D).
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