Press release ¤ Information de presse
Forum, Ground Floor, HotSpot
15 May 2006, 11.00 a.m.
The abbreviation REACH stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals, and it has recently been the subject of controversy in the chemi-cal industry and in the entire manufacturing sector. The REACH directive re-quires that chemicals which are produced in large volumes must be subjected to a costly and complicated registration and approval process. SMEs, the EU Par-liament and the Council of Ministers have all had their say on the new directive.
The goal of the EU directive is to provide better environmental and health pro-tection, improve the availability and flow of information, achieve equal treatment of old and new products, improve competitiveness, avoid fragmentation of the internal market, eliminate barriers to global trade and, last but not least, reduce testing on animals.
Industry experts agree with the results of studies which show that the new EU chemical regulations will considerably reduce the competitiveness and innova-tive momentum of the European chemical industry. The new regulations were originally intended to provide a workable management system for all chemical substances and strike a balance between environmental protection and busi-ness needs, but the whole project is threatening to turn into a bureaucratic quagmire.
One thing is certain: REACH is here to stay, and the directive will have to be-come an integral part of the future development process. The challenge now is to turn the regulations into a success story which will give special interest groups greater confidence in the chemical industry and its products. CEFIC (European Central Industry Council) will announce the establishment of an independent “REACH Center” at Achema 2006. The Center will provide European-level ad-vice and support for companies in the industry.
However, there are still a lot of unanswered questions. What does this all really mean for companies? Can we have REACH without excessive bureaucracy? How will REACH affect imports, and what are the implications for business confidentiality and the competitiveness of European companies? Will legal uncertainty reduce the willingness to invest or employ people in Europe?
Martin Hostalek, Senior Vice President Environment, Health, Safety, Quality at Merck KGaA, expressed the view that materials and process know-how makes a vital contribution to the efficiency of European industry. “Protection of intellectual property must be given top priority in the EU directive, and the directive must promote the EU internal market. Know-how that is revealed in studies must be protected for at least 15 years. Otherwise, the owners will in effect lose the benefit of the expertise which is contained in these very expensive studies.”
Reinhard Loske, a member of the German Parliament who represents the Green
Party, emphasizes that the goal of the directive must be to replace hazardous chemicals with non-toxic substances which are environmentally frinedly. A pre-ventive approach is the best way to eliminate possible environmental and health risks. “What the industry needs is incentives to develop new substances that pose less of a risk. This approach will improve consumer health, and it will strengthen the competitiveness of our industry,” argued Loske.
A panel of well-know experts will review the latest developments and possible solutions to these problems during the podium discussion entitled “REACH - Chemical Regulatory Approval in Europe”.
The following persons will take part in the discussion:
Dr. Aldo Belloni,
Member of the Executive Board at Linde AG, Höllriegelskreuth
Dr. Reinhard Loske
Member of the German Parliament, Bündnis 90/Die Grünen Party, Berlin
IG BCE (Mining, Chemicals and Energy Workers) Economic Policy Department,
Dr. Martin Hostalek, Merck KGaA, Darmstadt
Senior Vice President Environment, Health, Safety, Quality
Prof. Gerhard Kreysa (moderator)
CEO DECHEMA e.V., Frankfurt am Main