01 December 2006 16:51 [Source: ICIS news]
By Nigel Davis
LONDON (ICIS news)--Industry wants to see the detail. Green groups are already up in arms. The compromise agreed on REACH late on Thursday is something of an achievement. Just how much, though, remains to be seen.
Not so long ago, the EU parliament and its member states were miles apart on how ultimately chemicals will be authorised for sale under REACH. Authorisation was the main sticking point. Parliament call’s for a regulation with teeth produced an unworkable legislative draft. The 25 EU member states, through the union’s Council of Ministers, took a more realistic views but one which many felt played too much into the hands of industry.
So where are we now? The politician leading REACH through parliament, Guido Sacconi, says the compromise on the table will lead to a “balanced system, capable of securing a high level of public health and environmental protection.”
He has to convince the majority of MEPs that that protection will be achieved without compromising the competitiveness of European industry.
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The compromise on the authorisation aspects of REACH were hardest won. The form of words on the table now talks of an obligation on those seeking authorisation to submit a substitution plan. If no safer alternative exists manufacturers will have to produce a research and development schedule.
The parliament has gained some ground on endocrine disruptors. A clause was agreed to review after six years, on the basis of the latest scientific data, the inclusion of these substances. They can only be authorised if there is an overwhelming “socio-economic” need for them.
Authorisation generally will be granted either on the basis of “adequate control” or “socio-economic” factors.
The industry is still not clear on what a lot of this means and whether or not, for instance, reproductive toxicity studies will be needed on mid to low tonnage substances.
There is some easing of the registration requirements for substances produced between 1 tonne and 10 tonnes but this will be reviewed after seven years.
There was a long debate at the Thursday evening so-called ‘trialogue’ meeting between parliament, council and presidency representatives, about data confidentiality. Under the compromise agreement confidential information will be safeguarded for six years rather than the three year proposed previously. Submitted safety studies will be protected for 12 years.
Other aspects of the agreement will include an extension of the deadline for completion of the first registration phase by six months – to the end of 2008 – and close monitoring of the work of the new chemicals agency by the parliament.MEPs will debate REACH in a plenary session begging on 12 December. The current set of amendments have another hurdle to overcome – a meeting of EU representatives early next week – before they are tabled on 6 December so some finer points could change. A final parliament vote on the controversial legislation is scheduled for 13 December.
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