25 November 2005 16:17 [Source: ICIS news]
BRUSSELS (ICIS news)--The new German government will not agree to the European Union's controversial Reach legislation as it currently stands, when European ministers convene in a special council on 19 December, a German MEP spokeswoman said on Friday.
A spokeswoman for member of the European Parliament Hartmut Nassauer, who was Reach (registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals) rapporteur in the European Parliament (EP), said it was “quite clear” that Germany could not agree the legislation as currently submitted. The EP voted for the legislation on 17 November.
In addition to the sheer scale of Reach, the issue of translating it into multiple languages meant that it was “too complicated for one reading”, added Nassauer.
Consequently, the legislation will return to the EP for a second reading.
The main sticking point for Germany is the question of authorisation. Under Reach, chemicals registered with a new European Chemicals Agency would be authorised for five years only, restricting industry's ability to plan long term and imposing re-authorisation costs.
On registration, the German government is less concerned, feeling that the compromise worked out in the EP before the 17 November vote is acceptable. Under this compromise registration procedures for substances produced in quantities of one to 100 tonne are simplified.
Throughout the Reach negotiations, Nassauer has worked closely with Germany's Christian Democrat party (CDU), whose leader Angela Merkel became German chancellor on 22 November. The following day she travelled to Brussels and thanked the EP for its vote on Reach.
A spokesman for the German Permanent Representation in Brussels said that although the German government had nothing further to add on Merkel's comments about Reach, the new government in Berlin was concerned about making the legislation “business friendly in the right way.”
Under EU co-decision rules, the EP must act on legislation returned from the Council within a maximum of four months from the announcement of the Council position in plenary.
Should the EP stand firm and reject the Council position, the procedure would be closed and can only be restarted with a new proposal from the European Commission (EC). This can potentially delay the legislation for years.
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