European Environment Bureau  [Printer-friendly version]
June 27, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: For several years, the European Union (EU)
has been trying to pass a law, called REACH, that would require
industrial chemicals to be safety-tested before they are put on the
market. The slogan for REACH is, "No data, no market." The global
chemical industry has bitterly opposed REACH, and it now looks as if
the chemical corporations have succeeded in weakening the proposal

Environmental, women's, health and consumer organisations are very
concerned that the Council Common Position on the future EU chemicals
law -- REACH -- will not protect people and the environment from toxic
chemicals. We believe that the loopholes in the Council text, which
was rubber-stamped today by Environment ministers, give cause for
serious doubt that REACH will be an improvement on current chemicals

The Council Common Position fails to take account of the European
Parliament's First Reading position to substitute hazardous chemicals
with safer alternatives, whenever possible. It would allow
carcinogens, chemicals that are toxic to reproduction (e.g. the
phthalate DEHP) and hormone-disrupting substances (e.g. bisphenol A)
to stay on the market, even if safer alternatives exist. This loophole
represents little change from the current, flawed system, which has
failed to control the most dangerous chemicals and hinders safe,
innovative products from entering the market.

The Council text also drastically reduces safety information that
chemical producers would be obliged to supply, particularly for
substances produced in low quantities. Thousands of chemicals could
thus stay on the market, despite no health information being
available. This, too, reduces the likelihood of identifying safer
alternatives and taking precautionary action on chemicals.

The NGOs urge the European Parliament to reaffirm its support for the
substitution principle during Second Reading. We anticipate that
substitution will become the main area of contention, together with a
legally binding duty of care and greater access to information.

Only when these principles are fully endorsed by the EU institutions
deciding on REACH will European citizens and the environment benefit
from the new EU chemicals legislation.


The European Environment Bureau (EEB) is a federation of 143
environmental citizens organisations based in all EU Member States and
most Accession countries, as well as a few neighbouring countries.
They range from local and national to European and international. The
aim of the EEB is to protect and improve the environment of Europe and
to enable the citizens of Europe to play their part in achieving that

Copyright EUbusiness Ltd 2006.