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EU Chemicals Strategy European Regions Propose Review of “Reach” to Make it More Effective

Editor: Alexander Stark

The European Committee of the Regions' (CoR) opinion on Safe and sustainable chemicals for a toxic-free environment in Europe's cities and regions recognized the importance of the new chemicals strategy presented by the European Commission. However, the Committee calls for the full involvement of local and regional authorities considering their local market knowledge, their capacity to assess implementation on the ground and the specificities of each territory.

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The development of safe and sustainable chemicals is of great importance to move towards climate neutrality.
The development of safe and sustainable chemicals is of great importance to move towards climate neutrality.
(Source: Public Domain / Pixabay )

Brussels/Belgium — Europe is the second biggest producer of chemicals in the world, accounting for 16.9 percent of global sales. Chemical manufacturing is the fourth largest industry in the EU with 30,000 companies (95 percent of which are SMEs) and employs 1.2 million people directly and 3.6 indirectly.

Cities and regions in the EU deem it necessary to establish a coherent and simplified legal framework for the chemicals sector to make the industry greener and more effective. The CoR calls for the full involvement of local and regional authorities considering their local market knowledge, their capacity to assess implementation on the ground and the specificities of each territory.

Chemicals have dominated almost the entire product manufacturing market for the past decades and play a fundamental role in everyday life. Europe is the second biggest producer of chemicals (accounting for 16.9 percent of global sales) and chemical manufacturing is the fourth largest industry in the EU consisting of 30,000 companies (95 percent of which are SMEs) and employing 1.2 million people directly and 3.6 million indirectly. However, chemicals with hazardous properties can cause harm to human health and the environment. The development of safe and sustainable chemicals is of great importance to move towards climate neutrality and to achieve the goals of the Paris Climate Agreement.

Adam Struzik (PL/EPP), President of the Mazovia Region and rapporteur for the CoR opinion on “Safe and sustainable chemicals for a toxic-free environment in Europe's cities and regions”, stated: “The chemical strategy for sustainability is an important element of an economic policy based on green solutions. The effects of its deployment are expected by regions and society. In this opinion, we want to indicate the role of regions in the process of its implementation by focusing on the health of residents and the environment. The strategy is a chance to improve competitiveness through innovation.”

The CoR considers it crucial that the implementation of the new chemicals legislation takes into account the opinion of the industry as a whole and the time needed to convert facilities and manage hazardous chemicals that have to be withdrawn from the EU market. Likewise, the strategy should focus on creating a level playing field for all EU and non-EU stakeholders as it is of great importance to protect the innovation and competitiveness of European businesses, in particular SMEs. Specifically, on SMEs, local and regional authorities call for requirements to be comprehensible and administratively manageable while pointing out that a lot of important information is still only available in English which creates a clear language barrier.

The CoR proposes to review and to strengthen the “Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation” (REACH) and the CLP Regulation on the classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures as well as to simplify procedures.

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