Reach: an awkward political balancing act

Competing interests prepare to engage in a new tug of war over controversial EU chemicals policy

"Striking a balance" was the watchword from the European Commission as it formally proposed its EU Reach chemicals policy on Wednesday. Its attempt to reconcile business and environmental interests is about to be severely tested.

Reach is arguably the most significant piece of European environmental legislation for business in decades. In addition to the EU's estimated 34,000 chemical firms it will affect large swathes of manufacturing industry. Its effects will be felt around the world.

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