A coalition of European chemicals industry bodies is calling for the UK to remain within the REACH chemicals regulatory system after the country has left the European Union.
A European Union regulation concerning the registration, evaluation, authorisation, and restriction of chemicals, REACH came into force on 1 June 2007 and replaced a number of European Directives and Regulations with a single system.
In an open letter to coincide with last week’s round of Brexit talks, Cefic, CHEM Trust, the European Environment Bureau (EEB) and the UK Chemical Industries Association (CIA) urged the EU-27 Governments to allow the UK to remain within REACH and participate in the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) post-Brexit.
“A no deal Brexit would leave too little time for business to prepare and would lead to major disruptions,” the letter states. “Whatever shape the future relationship may eventually take, we urge you to ensure that the regulatory systems of the EU-27 and the UK remain highly aligned post-Brexit. This will not only allow for continuity and consistency for companies and regulatory bodies operating on both sides of the Channel, but also ensure a framework for the continued development and implementation of high health, safety and environmental standards. This applies in particular to the REACH chemicals management system.”
The letter asserts that nations on both sides of the Channel have undertaken “significant” investments in registrations under EU-REACH; sharing information and communicating safe use in exchange for the ability to market and use chemicals in European countries, including the UK.
“The chemicals agency ECHA now has the world’s leading database of chemicals. The UK has made major contributions to building that database, with UK companies contributing nearly 6,000 registered substances. At the same time the EU has undertaken intensive efforts to convince other countries in the world to adopt approaches similar to REACH,” the coalition adds.
If the UK is outside REACH post-Brexit the organisations say this would require companies on both sides of the Channel to duplicate pre-existing registration duties for a UK-REACH. “This would not only weaken the international competitiveness of both EU and UK based chemical companies but, more importantly, also risk divergence of health, safety and environmental levels of protection.
“Allowing the UK to remain within (and bound by) REACH and participating in ECHA is the best solution, as long as the UK accepts the conditions set by the EU-27. A strong REACH is in everybody’s interest,” they conclude.
In guidance published by the British Government on ‘Regulating chemicals (REACH) if there’s no Brexit deal,’ it says:
- Companies registered with REACH would no longer be able to sell into the EEA market without transferring their registrations to an EEA-based organisation. Companies would therefore need to take action to preserve their EEA market access.
- UK downstream users currently importing chemicals from an EEA country would face new registration requirements. Under the UK’s replacement for REACH, importers would have a duty to register chemicals. Similarly UK downstream users of authorisations would no longer be able to rely on authorisation decisions addressed to companies in the remaining EEA countries.