REACH (REGISTRATION, EVALUATION, AUTHORISATION
AND RESTRICTION OF CHEMICALS) (15409/03)
Letter from Lord Rooker, Minister of State
for Sustainable Farming and Food, Department for Environment,
Food and Rural Affairs to the Chairman
I am writing to inform you of developments on
the above dossier, which achieved Common Position at Environment
Council on 27 June. Your Committee considered Explanatory Memorandum
15409/03 of 17 December 2003 and Supplementary Explanatory Memorandum
15409/03 of 17 April 2004 on 6 January and 27 April 2004 respectively
and gave scrutiny clearance on 10 November 2005.
My Department last wrote to you on 8 December
outlining the key changes made to REACH as part of the political
agreement. These have now been formally adopted on 27 June as
a Council Common Position.
REACH remains a high priority for the UK and
we will continue to negotiate towards a regulation that protects
public health, the environment and industrial competitiveness.
The European Parliament has now begun its deliberations
in preparation for Second Reading. The Finnish Presidency has
stated that it will aim to broker a deal leading to adoption of
the Regulation by the end of 2006. Given the great deal of convergence
between the positions of the European Parliament and the Council,
I strongly believe that achieving a balanced outcome at this stage,
without the need to enter into a lengthy conciliation, is very
much in the UK's interest.
During its development, REACH has been the subject
of over 50 impact assessments across the EU. The UK partial impact
assessment estimated direct costs to UK industry would be £515
million over 11 years or just over £47 million per year.
We have now updated the partial impact assessment in light of
the Common Position. It indicates that the overall savings of
the Common Position compared to the original Commission proposal
amount to £469 million across the EU, equivalent to savings
of £111 million within the UK. A further study that we have
commissioned into the indirect costswhich are more problematic
to assess accuratelyhas concluded that the costs of REACH
are likely to be absorbed by industry without having a significant
impact on competitiveness, investment in the UK, or market structure.
However, although the number of substances withdrawn from the
market may not be high, this was most likely to affect low volume
substances and those produced by SMEs. REACH will also lead to
simplification of the current regulatory regime by replacing over
40 pieces of existing EU legislation and will result in a harmonised
system of chemical management across the EU.
The text agreed in Council last year was an
excellent outcome for the UK, with the inclusion of key elements
of our proposals including those on "one substance, one registration"
(OSOR), and mandatory reviews for all authorisations. Our aim
is to maintain the main elements of the current Council text in
the forthcoming discussions, in particular by resisting attempts
to weaken the OSOR provisions on data sharing or attempts to further
reduce the testing requirements at all tonnages.
Registration is the part of REACH most critical
to achieving the essential core data around which decisions can
be taken about the safe handling and use of substances. It is
also the area which has the potential to impose significant burdens
on industry, particularly SMEs, and to require a high level of
animal testing. The Common Position results in significant savings
to industry, largely by incorporating the main elements of our
proposal for OSOR and adopting a more risk-based, targeted approach
to the registration of lower volume substances. In addition, the
benefits have been maximised by focussing on substances that are
suspected or known to be persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic
(PBT) or very persistent and very bioaccumulative (vPvB) in the
first phase of registration.
Authorisation will allow a limited use of an
otherwise banned substance. These will be substances of very high
concern because of their known effects on human health or the
environment, and there is a consensus that the controls on them
should be tough but pragmatic. It is these substances that we
had already agreed should be substituted whenever practicable,
while recognising that in many circumstances it may not be possible
to find acceptable substitutes, for instance for certain metals
and metal salts. Many of the proposals made by the UK have been
included in the Common Position. These include limiting the need
for authorisation to substances of very high concern, using mandatory
reviews for all authorisations, and listing the substances meeting
the authorisation criteria.
24 July 2006
92 Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of
Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, pp 360-361. Back