The rapporteur trying to finesse the controversial REACH legislation through the European Parliament, Guido Sacconi, has formulated a compromise that aims to alleviate fears that the regulations could pose a heavy financial burden on Europe's smaller chemical companies.
REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) is aiming to make manufacturers or importers of chemicals in quantities of more than one tonne a year will be required to conduct testing on toxicology and safety, register them in a central database and take adequate measures to control any identified risks. The goal is to ensure that all chemicals used in Europe are safe.
However, opponents of the draft legislation, including European chemical industry body CEFIC, insist that it is placing an additional cost burden on companies that could undermine the competitiveness of Europe's chemicals industry and even drive small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) out of business.
Sacconi's draft compromise position hopes to assuage these fears. He is proposing that data registered for small volume chemicals (1-10 tonnes produced or imported per year) would be made available free of charge to SMEs 13 years after REACH comes into force instead of eleven, according to report on the EurActiv website.
This would invalidate CEFIC's claims that REACH is not workable for SMEs, he told a press conference, as it constitutes most of their chemicals portfolio. The measure would concern some 20,000 out of the 30,000 to be assessed under the REACH process, added Sacconi
His proposals also include a clause that the Commission reviews the regulation six years after it comes into force. This would make it possible to assess remaining untested chemicals according to the risks they pose to human health and the environment, instead of volumes, he suggested.
MEPs are scheduled to vote on the text in October or November.