US firms outline concerns for chemical policy

Association says strong reversal of burden of proof could lead to "extreme" cost scenarios

American firms operating in the EU have warned the European Commission that a planned recasting of EU chemicals regulation could force businesses into "extreme scenarios" and resulting in "tremendous and disproportionate costs." The chemicals review, which is due to result in proposals by the end of the year, is being led by the Commission's environment and enterprise directorates. Few concrete details of its likely direction have yet emerged (ENDS Daily 6 June).

In a recent position paper, the EU committee of the American Chamber of Commerce says some ideas being floated to replace the current system for evaluating "existing" chemicals originally approved with little prior assessment would be "unmanageable and disproportionate." "The EU committee is concerned about the Commission's declared intention to reverse the burden of proof on industry that a chemical is safe," it says.

One proposal being considered would require industry to conduct, within a certain time-frame and under the threat of loss of market access, a "substantial review" of a "majority" of the thousands of existing substances approved before more rigorous assessment rules were introduced in 1981, it says. This would result in them being "swamped with data collection and assessment duties for substances that do not present particular concerns," it says.

Follow Up:
EU Committee, tel: +32 2 513 6892, and its position paper.

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