International Environment Reporter™ helps you understand environmental laws, regulations, policies and trends in major industrialized and developing nations, as well as in international governmental...
By Stephen Gardner
BRUSSELS—A number of EU governments used a meeting of the bloc's competitiveness and industry ministers Dec. 5 to call for revisions to the REACH chemical legislation, saying it imposes too high a cost on small and medium-sized companies.
Martin Kuba, the trade and industry minister from the Czech Republic, in a statement also backed by Slovakia, said that “REACH imposes [an] excessive administrative and financial burden especially on SMEs [small and medium-sized enterprises], and might threaten the very existence of many companies.”
The European Commission, the European Union's executive arm, should “assess the real contribution of this legislation and focus on its impacts on the European economy,” Kuba said.
The Commission is due to publish a review of REACH (Regulation No. 1907/2006 on the registration, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals) in 2012, but has so far said the review is unlikely to result in major legislative changes (34 INER 890, 9/28/11).
Under REACH, manufacturers or importers of chemicals are required to file extensive registration dossiers with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), according to a series of deadlines staggered through 2018.
The Czech and Slovak call for a reconsideration of the impact of REACH on small and medium-sized companies was backed informally by Hungary, Romania, and the United Kingdom.
A Czech official who asked not to be named told BNA that the aim was not to reduce the REACH requirements, but to make it “more flexible for SMEs to live with.” Most large companies are complying with REACH without difficulty, the official added.
Possible changes could be made to the scope of REACH or to the cost of compliance, the official said.
Kuba said the “competitiveness of the European chemical industry is weakening compared to emerging economies such as China, India, or South America.”
“We want to raise the question whether certain regulatory measures adversely affect the position of European companies on the global market,” he added.
Geert Dancet, director of ECHA, told BNA that smaller companies will be mostly concerned by the final REACH registration deadline in 2018, which applies to substances manufactured in, or imported into, the European Union in annual volumes of 1 to 100 metric tons.
The next deadline of May 31, 2013, which applies to substances in the 100-1,000 metric ton band, will be mainly “an issue for large companies,” Dancet said. This was also true of the 2010 deadline, which applied to substances in volumes of 1,000 metric tons or more.
Nevertheless, smaller companies are already affected by REACH because of the obligation it imposes on users of hazardous chemicals to submit notifications to ECHA, Dancet added.
He said that ECHA had so far had relatively little direct contact with SMEs because “consultants stand in for them.”
The raising of concerns at the ministerial level about the impact of REACH effectively requires the Commission to take them into account when it publishes the results of the REACH review, which are due mid-2012.
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)