Brexit: chemical regulation Contents

Summary of conclusions and recommendations

1.The chemicals sector is the UK’s second biggest manufacturing industry, and provides substances that go into products we all use every day. Both the chemical industry and the many supply chains that rely on it could be strongly affected if Brexit disrupts current arrangements. It is vital for both human and environmental health that these substances are regulated safely after Brexit, in a way that allows chemical trade between the UK and EU to continue. (Paragraph 14)

2.We welcome the Government’s aim to continue to participate in REACH and ECHA post-Brexit, but we note that its red line on the UK’s membership of the Single Market after Brexit casts significant doubt on the feasibility of this aim. As a consequence, the Government must be fully prepared to manage an independent UK regulatory regime for chemicals immediately post-Brexit. (Paragraph 20)

3.The loss of access to 16,000 substances after Brexit would have a serious impact on the UK’s chemical industry and the many supply chains that rely on it. We urge the Government to clarify as a matter of urgency whether it would automatically accept EU-27-led chemical registrations into a UK system in order to avoid such a cliff-edge, and if so how it would address concerns regarding the use of chemicals for which it cannot access the information that supports that registration. (Paragraph 25)

4.We urge the Government immediately to clarify in what circumstances it is possible for UK-based chemical manufacturers and importers to transfer their registrations to an EU-based party before exit day, and, where this is not currently possible, to work with ECHA to enable such transfers to take place, thus avoiding a trading hiatus that would seriously affect both UK and EU businesses. (Paragraph 26)

5.Swift progress towards establishing a UK chemicals database is crucial. We call on the Government to publish details of the progress made to date, and to set out its intentions for the database’s functionality, both immediately post-Brexit and in the longer term. (Paragraph 32)

6.We have serious doubts about the Government’s ability to populate a UK chemicals database with the necessary data. The Minister’s proposal unilaterally to “copy and paste” registration information from companies based in the other Member States is not credible and raises serious legal concerns, including over copyright and data protection. We therefore ask the Government, as a matter of urgency, to set out an alternative, more considered approach to securing this information in the event that consent is not ultimately granted. (Paragraph 33)

7.In addition, we find it extremely concerning that it may not be possible to establish which of the existing REACH registrations originate from UK companies. We call on the Government to set out the steps it is taking to resolve this issue. (Paragraph 34)

8.We note that if the UK is not able to access the REACH database post-Brexit, some tests may need to be re-conducted to obtain the necessary safety information. We urge the Government to consider what steps it could take to minimise or eliminate the need for additional animal testing if this scenario arises. (Paragraph 35)

9.We are deeply concerned that the Government has not started making preparations for equipping a UK body to take on the task of regulating chemicals post-Brexit. The Government must clarify what body will take on ECHA’s role if the UK ceases to participate in REACH, and the means by which independent, expert and transparent chemical risk assessments will take place post-Brexit. (Paragraph 39)

10.It is unclear whether either UK- or EU-27-based companies would be charged for registering a substance with the UK system. We call on the Government to clarify this issue and to explain what steps it intends to take to mitigate the economic impact of the UK’s potential withdrawal from REACH on the UK’s second biggest manufacturing industry. (Paragraph 42)

11.Given the large amount of chemical trade that takes place between the UK and EU, and the movement of international chemical markets towards the EU system, we support the Government’s intention to remain aligned to REACH post-Brexit. We call on the Government to clarify the extent to which it intends to maintain that alignment in the long term. (Paragraph 46)

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