VCI interim stocktaking on the European chemicals regulation REACH
REACH work continues after the milestone
Up until now, over 80,000 registrations for more than 20,000 substances ++ Workload remains high for public authorities and companies ++ Industry needs good legal certainty and straightforward approaches.
The implementation of the European chemicals regulation REACH is far from completed but well on its way. This is the outcome of an interim stocktaking by the German chemical industry association Verband der Chemischen Industrie (VCI). The last of a total of three registration phases for chemicals in Europe ends on 31 May 2018. By that date, manufacturers and importers need to submit to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki for each substance in the volume band from 1-100 tonnes/year a dossier on the manufacture, use and safety of that chemical. Substances with higher production and import volumes had to be registered already in two earlier transitional periods to November 2010 and May 2013, respectively. Up until now, ECHA has received over 80,000 registrations for more than 20,000 substances from the entire European Union.
Gerd Romanowski, VCI executive director for science, technical and environ-mental affairs, emphasizes: “Our member companies have done their utmost to fulfil the complex and demanding requirements in a correct and timely manner. However, it must be clearly said that the implementation effort remains high for public authorities and companies even after the last registration deadline – albeit with a shifting work focus. It is essential for companies to consider this in their resource planning for the coming years.”
In its recent REACH review of March 2018 the European Commission notes that after 10 years, the REACH Regulation functions well. The Commission holds that REACH in its existing form is suitable to achieve the given goals.
Romanowski: “We welcome the fact that the EU Commission currently sees no need for amendments to the REACH Regulation as such, as the companies need legal certainty for the further implementation.”
For the companies, REACH implementation means high costs and a heavy work-load for staff. However, according to Romanowski it is still too early for a final assessment: “It will take at least some more years to evaluate whether REACH impairs the competitiveness and the innovation capability of the chemical-pharmaceutical industry.”
From the VCI’s perspective, simplifications are necessary and possible without amending the text of the REACH regulation, e.g. regarding the authorisation procedure. Romanowski explains: “Already now, more and more important substances – such as solvents and catalysts – are identified as candidates for the authorisation procedure. An authorisation requirement adversely affects the planning security for companies and causes higher costs. Both bring competitive disadvantages for products manufactured in the EU. Therefore, the authorisation procedure should be applied only where there is no other way to ensure the safe handling of a substance.”
The VCI represents the politico-economic interests of around 1,700 German chemical companies and German subsidiaries of foreign businesses. For this purpose, the VCI is in contact with politicians, public authorities, other industries, science and media.The VCI stands for over 90 percent of the chemical industry in Germany. In 2017 the German chemical industry realised sales of more than 195 billion euros and employed around 453,000 staff.