EU OKs Chemical Safety Controls; U.S. Unhappy about the Cost
Byline: Jeffrey Sparshott, THE WASHINGTON TIMES
The European Union's parliament yesterday approved new controls that are meant to protect people from harmful substances but that would add costs to the chemical industry worldwide and potentially keep products deemed safe in the United States out of a major market.
The European Union's executive commission in 2003 proposed regulations known as the Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals (Reach). They would require chemical producers and users to comply with extensive regulations covering roughly 30,000 substances, including hazardous chemicals but also raw materials and other basic products that go into manufacturing shoes, the ink in pens, wallboard and other goods.
The European Union initially estimated registration costs as high as $6 billion over an 11-year period, relatively small when spread out over the entire economy. But industry groups say that new bureaucratic barriers and unnecessary restrictions will cost innovation and potentially European jobs.
"But Reach's impact isn't only going to fall on Europe because the United States and other nations are inextricably linked to the EU economy through trade," Angela Logomasini, director of risk and environmental policy at the Competitive Enterprise Institute, a conservative Washington think tank, said in an article published this month.
The United States exports more than $20 billion in chemical products and invests more than $4 billion in the EU chemical and related industry sectors annually, and U.S. companies export more than $400 billion in products containing chemicals that may fall under the scope of Reach regulations, she said.
Reach rules are still about a year away from final approval and implementation. Governments from the European Union's 25 member states get a crack at amendments, and the European Commission, the EU's executive body, has a say in the final regulations.
As they stand, the rules shift the regulatory burden away from the government, which must now show that a substance is not safe to ban it, to companies, which would have to prove that substances are safe before they can use them. …