15 July 2008 15:15 [Source: ICIS news]
By Chris Jones
PARIS (ICIS news)--The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), responsible for assessing the safety of thousands of chemicals on sale in the EU, must not be allowed to run out money, a politician warned on Tuesday.
Chris Davies, a British member of the European Parliament (MEP) who sits on the institution’s environment committee, was responding to claims by ECHA executive director Geert Dancet that the agency's funding mechanism would lead to a shortfall in cash by 2011, barely three years after its creation.
“The prospect of the European Chemicals Agency going financially bust is obviously ludicrous. It could never be allowed to happen,” Davies said.
Dancet warned MEPs at a meeting of the environment committee on Monday that chemical companies were finding ways to avoid paying fees – the chief means of funding for the agency – when registering their chemicals.
The agency, created as part of the EU’s Reach regulation on the registration of chemicals, will receive EU subsidies only for the first three years, after which time the European Commission (EC) believes it should be able to fend for itself using the money paid by companies as part of the registration process.
But Dancet told MEPs that the calculations used by the EC to justify this move appeared to be erroneous, and that there was “enormous uncertainty” over the amount of money that could be expected to be raised through the fees..
He said that many firms were rushing to register their chemicals under existing rules, before Reach comes fully into force in December, and that this meant that fee income was significantly lower than expected.
In some cases, revenues were at least half as much as predicted by the EC, he added.
“The executive director has done well to flag up at this early stage his concerns that the funding structure envisaged is not going to prove sufficient, and that a huge deficit will open up as a result of chemical companies finding the least expensive means of registering their products,” said Davies.
“The European Commission will now have to study the situation and recommend new means of bridging the funding gap.”
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