The Greens/EFA In the European Parliament, December 13, 2006


[Rachel's introduction: The Greens and the European Free Alliance (EFA) immediately derided the European chemicals policy, REACH, enacted today by the European Parliament. Green Member of Parliament Caroline Lucas said, "This deal is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry..."]

The European Parliament today voted to adopt the compromise deal on the REACH regulation, agreed with Council on 30 November, rejecting both the Greens' alternative compromise and individual Green amendments aimed at strengthening the text. Speaking after the vote Swedish Green and shadow rapporteur, Carl Schlyter said:

"As expected, the EP has rubber-stamped the deal on REACH, bringing to an end 9 years of discussions on reviewing the EU's chemicals rules. The rapporteur is toasting the 'success' of the compromise, however it is far too early to judge if the new regulation will offer much greater protection to EU citizens from hazardous chemicals.

"One certainty is that the EP failed to ensure mandatory substitution of substances of high concern in consumer products where a safer alternative exists. In doing so, the Parliament missed the opportunity to guarantee better protection from these chemicals, all to protect short-term profits for the chemicals industry."

UK Green MEP and Environment Committee member Caroline Lucas added:

"This deal is an early Christmas present for the chemicals industry, rewarding it for its intense and underhand lobbying campaign. While the legislative text has now been agreed, the devil will be in the detail of the implementation of these rules. We are deeply worried that the key goal of this legislation -- to offer EU citizens and the environment sufficient protection from dangerous chemicals -- appears to have been lost in the haste to agree a compromise.

"Worryingly, while the legislative phase was relatively transparent except for the final trialogues, the crucial implementation of REACH promises to be an opaque process in which the chemicals industry will have enormous influence and will try to weaken REACH further. Given the deep division between the Commission services responsible, many more behind-the-scenes fights are looming. It is unacceptable the Chemicals Agency, which will prepare crucial decisions on these substances, can be veiled in secrecy. We can only hope that consumers will make use of their right to get information about substances of very high concern in everyday products to such an extent that the retail sector will voluntarily withdraw products containing these chemicals."

Richard More O' Ferrall, Press and Communications Officer, The Greens/EFA in the European Parliament Tel: Brussels +32 2 2841667 / Strasburg +33 3 88174375 Mobile: +32-477-44-38-42 Fax: 0032 2 2844944