On October 24, 2018, European Parliament (EP) held a debate on the “Grave lack of implementation of the EU Reach Regulation and use of non-tested chemicals in the EU.” The discussion was spurred by the study carried out by the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) that revealed the high rate of non-compliance with data submission requirements among the REACH registration dossiers (FPF reported).
Karoline Edtstadler, President-in-Office of the Council, acknowledged the “magnitude of the problem” revealed by the BfR study, but maintained that “we should not lose sight of the progress made.” The second review of REACH carried out by the EU Commission (EC) (FPF reported) showed that REACH is “delivering,” although “more needs to be done” still, for example with regard to “poor quality of dossier updates.” Edtstadler called on the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and on the EU Member States “to show that they are serious about protecting human health and environment” and assured that the Council “looks forward to any proposal that the Commission may present in the future.”
Phil Hogan, EU Commissioner for Agriculture & Rural Development, addressed the plenary on behalf of Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, who could not attend the debate. He reminded that “REACH is the most comprehensive chemical legislation in the world,” but later also commented that “the issue of non-compliance of dossiers is not unexpected.” Following the second review of REACH, the EC has compiled a list of “actions” to be taken to improve implementation of REACH (FPF reported). For example, the EC has requested that the ECHA takes measures to “significantly increase” the efficiency of dossier evaluations by 2019.
Bas Eickhout, a Dutch Member of the EP (MEP) and member of the GreenLeft, characterized the BfR’s findings as “dieselgate of chemical industry.” He accused the Council and the EC of “pointing fingers again at this very serious matter” and emphasized that the issue of compliance is “not new,” as ECHA has been notifying Member States about this “for years” already. Eickhout also criticized the extremely low rate of dossier rejections (only four have been rejected so far) and said that the Member States have to decide on “what . . . to do to those companies that are non-compliant?” French MEP Younous Omarjee, member of the Confederal Group of the European United Left, requested that the list of companies responsible for non-compliant dossiers be made public. Other MEPs also criticized the inefficient enforcement and the lack of transparency, demanding that “something has to be done to make sure the regulations are respected.”
The non-governmental organization (NGO) International Chemical Secretariat (ChemSec) has previously criticized the EC’s list of REACH-related actions as “lacking the actual things to do” and pointed out that “REACH has a real implementation problem . . . largely due to industry not providing enough chemical data” (FPF reported).
In an article published on October 24, 2018, the European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) maintained that “REACH is working,” emphasized the “tremendous effort [made by chemical industry] to compile all registration dossiers,” reminded of the ongoing collaboration with ECHA (FPF reported) and explained that “some of the mentioned data gaps” could be due to “various interpretations” on how to use alternative methods for characterizing toxicity.
Clelia Oziel (October 25, 2018). “EU bodies accused of ‘ping-ponging’ on REACH compliance ‘scandal.’” Chemical Watch
Cefic (October 25, 2018). “REACH is working: Cefic statement on the debate in the European Parliament on the implementation of the EU Reach Regulation and use of non-tested chemicals in the EU on 24 October.”