Documents considered by the Committee on 20 June 2018 Contents

3EU Chemicals Policy

Committee’s assessment

Politically important

Committee’s decision

(a) Not cleared from scrutiny; further information requested (b) Cleared from scrutiny. Drawn to the attention of the Environmental Audit Committee

Document details

(a) Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on persistent organic pollutants; (b) Commission Communication—Commission General Report on the operation of REACH and review of certain elements: Conclusions and Action

Legal base

(a) Article 192(1) TFEU, QMV, Ordinary legislative procedure; (b)—

Department

Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

Document Numbers

(a) (39594), 7470/18 + ADD 1, COM(18) 144; (b) (39540), 39540, 6916/18 + ADDs 1–7, COM(18) 116

Summary and Committee’s conclusions

3.1In her Mansion House speech on 2 March 2018, the Prime Minister proposed that the UK seek associate membership of a number of EU agencies post-Brexit, including the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The aim of this approach is to ensure that products only require one series of approvals for accessing both UK and EU markets.

3.2We raised queries in relation to this issue in our scrutiny of both of these documents. The first document (document (a)) proposed to recast the EU’s Regulation on Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs),39 including a suggestion that the ECHA be involved in supporting the technical and reporting aspects of the Regulation. This would expand the existing remit of the ECHA. We therefore asked to what extent the uncertainty over UK associate membership of the ECHA could impact on the UK’s input into negotiations on the proposal.

3.3The second document (document (b) reviews the implementation of the “REACH” (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) Regulation. Drawing on the example of Swiss participation in the European Aviation Safety Agency, we asked whether it was reasonable to assume that associate membership of the ECHA would be conditional on application of the relevant EU legislation and whether this would apply to all of the Regulations covered by the ECHA.

3.4In his response to the Committee’s queries on the draft POPs Regulation (document (a)), the Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Food (George Eustice) notes that the UK will discuss with the EU how best to cooperate with regards to the future management of POPs. Progress of the POPs proposal will be relevant, including any new role for the ECHA. The Minister goes on to emphasise that the detailed terms of any associate membership of the ECHA would be subject to negotiations and that the UK would accept that this would mean abiding by the rules of the agency and making an appropriate financial contribution. While the UK Parliament could choose not to accept those rules, there would be consequences for linked market access rights and agency membership.

3.5Responding to the Committee’s queries on the REACH review, the Minister adds that Switzerland’s relationship with EASA exemplifies the concept of associate membership of EU agencies with the aim of ensuring that products only require one series of approvals for accessing both UK and EU markets.

3.6The Minister reiterates the Prime Minister’s commitment that the EU would abide by the rules of the Agency in order to secure associate membership. While this does not explicitly cover the underlying EU Regulations salient to the work of the Agency, we consider it instructive that the Minister does not reject the suggestion that the UK would also need to abide by EU rules in the areas covered by the Agency. This would require regulatory alignment with a number of EU Regulations, both as they are currently in force and as they may be amended in the future.

3.7We would welcome an update in due course on the progress of negotiations on the POPs proposal (document (a)), which we retain under scrutiny. We have no further queries regarding the REACH review (document (b)) and now clear that document from scrutiny. We draw this chapter to the attention of the Environmental Audit Committee as that Committee has shown considerable interest in the future of chemicals regulation post-Brexit.

Full details of the documents

(a) Proposal for a Regulation of the European Parliament and of the Council on persistent organic pollutants: (39594), 7470/18 + ADD 1, COM(18) 144; (b) Commission Communication—Commission General Report on the operation of REACH and review of certain elements: Conclusions and Action: (39540), 39540, 6916/18 + ADDs 1–7, COM(18) 116.

Previous Committee Reports

Document (a): Twenty-sixth Report HC 301–xxv (2017–19), chapter 1 (2 May 2018). Document (b): Twenty-fifth Report HC 301–xxiv (2017–19), chapter 4 (25 April 2018).


39 Examples of POPs include pesticides such as DDT and polychlorinated biphenyls (PCBs). Now largely banned, PCBs continue to occur in the environment through the disposal of old electrical equipment.




Published: 26 June 2018