International news

Europe: EU action after chemical firms flout the law
EU government delegates on the European Commission’s REACH committee have agreed to increase the minimum compliance check target for chemicals registration dossiers from 5 per cent to 20 per cent, the first concrete legislative step following reports of widespread flouting of EU rules by high volume users of industrial chemicals.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) came under pressure last year after German regulators found the majority of dossiers submitted by chemicals firms do not comply with the REACH regulation covering the majority of substances used in the EU, due to absent safety data or failures to update regularly. In the wake of the revelations, the head of the Helsinki-based agency was called before the European Parliament's environment committee, while chemicals firms were forced onto the defensive after campaigners estimated that over 650 had failed to meet EU standards on safety data provision.

The decision to increase the rate of compliance checks is the first step in an action plan agreed between ECHA and the European Commission. Further measures include a simplification of decision-making procedures and an assessment, by the end of 2020, of the effectiveness of enforcement measures. The new minimum target means ECHA must aim to check 20 per cent of dossiers relating to high-volume chemicals – where over 100 tonnes are imported or used in the EU annually – by 2023. For chemicals used in volumes from 1 to 100 tonnes, the deadline is 2027. The Commission noted the “utmost importance” of effective enforcement of the EU rules. “This is the responsibility of member states and is coordinated at EU level through the Forum for Enforcement,” the EU executive said. Source: Risks 917

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