CHEM Trust welcomes the European Commission’s publication of three legislative proposals which aim to ‘streamline assessments of chemicals across EU legislation; strengthen the knowledge base on chemicals; and ensure early detection and action on emerging chemical risks’ . This package, often called ‘One Substance One Assessment’ or OSOA, is an important element of modernising the EU’s laws on chemical safety. However, we are disappointed that the Commission has not yet published a key proposal that will strengthen the crucial EU Chemical Agency ECHA.
The three legislative proposals divide into two groups:
- A Regulation to bring together the data on chemicals held by different parts of the European Commission and its agencies, also creating a process to generate new data, and a monitoring and outlook system to identify emerging chemical risks
- A Regulation and a Directive that will amend various existing laws relating to chemical in order to re-allocate tasks in a more logical way. Many of these tasks will be transferred to the European Chemicals Agency ECHA in Helsinki.
The proposals will now be discussed by the European Parliament and EU Member States through the normal EU democratic process. CHEM Trust welcomes these proposals, and we will examine them in detail in order to contribute our analysis into this democratic process.
However, we are disappointed that the Commission has not used this opportunity to publish a linked piece of legislation which modernises the legal basis of ECHA. ECHA was originally created in EU chemicals law REACH, but now has a much more wide-ranging role in EU chemicals management. This ECHA founding regulation has been in preparation for some time, and needs to be published and passed into law so that ECHA can work as effectively as possible.
CHEM Trust also makes a specific request of EU Member States that they ensure that they provide sufficient experts to staff ECHA’s committees, as these committees are a vital part of the regulatory system. The committees are currently understaffed, which jeopardises the effectiveness of ECHA, particularly with the new responsibilities that are proposed to be added.
Stefan Scheuer, Chief EU Policy Advocate for CHEM Trust, said:
“One central access point to all chemical safety-relevant data collected by 70 EU policies is an important element to regulate chemicals more effectively and increase transparency.
ECHA is the appropriate place for such a new data platform, but we are concerned about the agency’s capacities as it is being given new tasks by this new legislation. The Commission promised to propose a founding regulation to improve ECHA’s governance and financing, but they keep delaying its publication – it needs to be published as soon as possible in 2024.”‘
In addition, we are still waiting for the Commission’s proposal to revise and update the main EU chemicals law REACH. We are now hoping that this will appear early in 2025, at the start of the next Commission’s term. The Commission has recently confirmed to us that this revision is very important to them, and they are continuing to work on it.