CHEM Trust and EEB have today published a report, “Waiting for REACH: The negative impacts of delaying reform of EU chemical laws” which examines the impacts of the European Commission’s continued delay in publishing its proposal for improving Europe’s key law on chemical safety, REACH.
On 14th October 2020, the Commission published its “Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability” which committed the Commission to developing a legal proposal for a revised REACH. In October 2022, the Commission agreed a work programme that delayed the publication of this proposal until fourth quarter 2023. Although this has been later qualified by the statement that “once this file is ready, we will not hesitate, we will present it to the Parliament and to the Council”. The ‘Waiting for REACH’ report outlines the evidence that this delay was due to industry lobbying, particularly the German chemical industry.
CHEM Trust and other NGOs are now asking the Commission to publish REACH in June 2023.
The ongoing delay of the publication, which may push finalisation of the revised REACH well into the term of the next Commission and Parliament, is creating the following key negative impacts:
- There will be a continuation of the current status quo of pollution, where hazardous substances are not identified or managed effectively, posing a risk to human health and the environment. This will have negative impacts on several health and environmental goals of the European Green Deal, including those related to the protection of biodiversity, air and water quality, zero pollution and human health.
- The development and resilience of the EU chemicals industry and SMEs will also be hampered, due to a lack of a clear direction, just at the moment when it needs to invest in the transition. In addition, frontrunner companies that have already invested in the substitution of hazardous substances will be penalised. If new manufacturing methods are going to be developed and implemented (potentially with support from EU taxpayers) it is essential that they are making the right chemicals for the long term.
- The EU’s transition towards a sustainable and circular economy will be hindered. By promoting the development and use of safer and more sustainable chemicals and products, the REACH Regulation can support the EU’s goals related to waste reduction, resource efficiency, and sustainable production and consumption.
- The EU is unlikely to ensure toxic-free products by 2030 jeopardising several product policy areas including ecodesign, ecolabel, and sustainable textiles.
Michael Warhurst, Executive Director of CHEM Trust, said:
“People and the environment continue to be exposed to hazardous chemicals, including endocrine disrupters. The longer the REACH revision takes, the longer this exposure continues due to the ineffectiveness of current procedures. We need the new REACH to set a target to phase out the most harmful chemicals by 2030, and we need that new legislation to be in force as soon as possible”
- The joint EEB-CHEM Trust press release for this report is available on the EEB web site.
- The EDC Free Europe coalition, of which CHEM Trust is a member, has published a separate blog on the need for publication of the REACH reform with no further delay.
- A broad coalition of over 30,000 European and international endocrine experts called yesterday for EU legislators to publish the revised REACH proposal without any further delay, and no later than June 2023.
- Corporate Europe Observatory have also published a report today, looking at BASF’s role in lobbying the EU.
- Members of the NGO EDCFree-coalition, including CHEM Trust, wrote letters to national ministers in 8 countries ahead of the Council meeting on 16th March, calling for an EU REACH reform with no further delay.