Belgium: Chemical Industry Cefic Discusses Future of 'Reach' in a Post-Brexit World

Editor: Alexander Stark

With the 2018 Reach registration deadline looming on the horizon for Europe’s chemical companies, Cefic gathered representatives from industry, authorities and the political sphere to discuss how Europe’s legislative framework for chemical management can be strengthened over the coming decades.

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Created in 1972, Cefic represents 29,000 companies that produce about a fifth of the world’s chemicals and employs around 1.2 million people.
Created in 1972, Cefic represents 29,000 companies that produce about a fifth of the world’s chemicals and employs around 1.2 million people.
(Source: Cefic)

Brussels/Belgium — The main topic concerned the future of Reach. “Industry’s main priority is — now that we have the benefit of ten years’ experience, to enhance our focus on quality improvement to make sure Reach has a bright future”, said Erwin Annys, Cefic Reach Director, during his presentation. “Prior to the advent of Reach, authorities evaluated 141 substances in 15 years, he said. Since Reach, this has increased to 30,000 substances registered over the last 10 years — a testimony to the joint work of industry and authorities. This is a step-by-step approach that takes continuous improvement and we look forward to the next decades of cooperation with authorities.”

Reach is innately complex, and the knowledge about the safe use of chemical substances is constantly evolving. For chemical manufacturers, innovating involves looking at the essence of your product portfolio and trying to predict what the future will hold so that laws don’t lead to wasted investment in these new products which could be unexpectedly prohibited in certain applications.

Reach in a Post-Brexit World

According to Silvia Segna, representative of the UK Chemicals Industry Association (CIA), the UK will have a major task ahead if a decision will be taken to transpose Reach into UK law, as Brexit negotiations unfold. “Copy paste is not possible where Reach is concerned, because some laws just cannot be directly copied in UK law. Some changes will certainly have to be proposed by the UK government, using secondary legislation”, she said.

A recent public enquiry into Reach by the House of Commons in the UK sought to examine this, and further work will need to be done to ensure that chemicals imported into Europe meet Europe’s high standards for health and environmental safety. Meanwhile, CIA advocate for the UK to pay if necessary in order to still maintain their participation in Reach. The ultimate priority is tariff-free access to the EU’s single market, plus regulatory consistency.

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