EU BACKS LANDMARK CHEMICALS LAW

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EU BACKS LANDMARK CHEMICALS LAW

 user 2005-12-15 at 1:12:00 pm Views: 51
  • #13480

    EU backs landmark chemicals law
    European Union ministers have approved a landmark law on chemicals, after two years of discussion and lobbying.
    The
    law requires firms to register all chemicals they produce or import,
    and to get authorisation for the most dangerous substances.
    Industry says the law will impose heavy costs, but greens say it is too weak.
    Because
    the ministers’ version of the law differs from the text passed by the
    European Parliament last month, efforts to reconcile them will begin
    next year.
    In particular, ministers relaxed the conditions set by parliament for authorisation of the most dangerous chemicals.
    While
    MEPs said companies should be forced to replace dangerous chemicals
    with safe ones, where an alternative exists, the ministers said simply
    they should be encouraged to do so.
    ‘Reasonable compromise’
    Reach
    should lead to thousands of chemicals used in household products such
    as computers, toys and detergents, being tested for their impact on
    health and the environment for the first time.
        We have succeeded in making Reach more effective and more workable
    EU Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen
    EU
    Industry Commissioner Guenter Verheugen said the deal was a “reasonable
    compromise” between industrial and environmental concerns.
    “We have
    succeeded in making Reach more effective and more workable. And we have
    succeeded in maintaining the competitiveness of EU industry, and a
    crucial point, reducing the burden for small and medium-sized
    companies,” he said.
    However, environmentalists were not pleased.
    “EU
    ministers failed today to seize a unique opportunity to protect people
    and the environment from the threat of toxic chemicals,” seven green
    groups, including WWF and Greenpeace, said in a statement.
    They urged the European Parliament to stick to its position when the bill comes up for a second reading in 2006.
    Animal tests
    The
    ministers supported a compromise reached in parliament on the
    registration procedures, which will cut the number of chemicals needing
    to be tested from 30,000 to nearer 12,500.
    REACH IN NUMBERS
    30,000 chemicals to be registered over 11 years
    At least one million more animal tests
    Estimated costs of c 5bn euros for business over 11 years
    Billions of euros saved in healthcare costs
    1,000 pages of text already, rising potentially to 15,000
    1,000 amendments voted on by parliament
    They
    also supported the parliament’s moves to promote sharing of data, in
    order to minimise the duplication of tests, including tests on animals.
    And
    where the parliament called for all authorisations to be reviewed
    within five years, the ministers said reviews should be set on a
    case-by-case basis.
    The ministers also said that companies seeking
    authorisation for dangerous substances would have to prove that the
    risks could be adequately controlled and to provide information on
    possible alternatives.
    Industry lobby group Unice said it would be very difficult for business to meet these conditions.