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White Paper on the Strategy for a future Chemicals Policy

On 13th February, 2001, the European Commission adopted a White Paper setting out the strategy for a future Community Policy for Chemicals. The main objective of the new Chemical Strategy is to ensure a high level of protection for human health and the environment, while ensuring the efficient functioning of the internal market and stimulating innovation and competitiveness in the chemical industry. Commenting on today's announcement Environment Commissioner Margot Wallström said: "This is one of the most important initiatives the Commission has taken in the context of sustainable development. We have decided on a step-by-step approach to phase out and substitute the most dangerous substances – the ones that cause cancer, accumulate in our bodies and in our environment and affect our ability to reproduce. This decision is crucial for future generations".

Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen said: "Today's decision is crucial to get good and reliable information on the basis of which we can start analysing the many chemicals on the market on which we have no knowledge of their effects on the environment and our health. At the same time the decision is important to create a proper internal market for chemicals products – and thus a level playing field for our industry. The scheme which we have agreed today will also help stimulating innovation and will provide industry a clear framework within which they can work on a competitive footing with other global players."

Press release

White Paper on the Strategy for a future Chemicals Policy COM(2001)88

The White Paper proposed to establish a central entity for the administration of the REACH system and the provision of technical and scientific support. The Commission undertook to carry out a feasibility study on the resource requirements prior to the establishment of this central entity. The report of this study (pdf ~900K) > was publisehd in June 2002).

Disclaimer: Note that this report was prepared by contractors at the request of the European Commission and does not necessarily represent the views of the European Commission.

Final Report of the SLIM Phase IV Team on Dangerous Substances (Directive 67/548/EEC)

The SLIM Group has concluded that the underlying principles of the Dangerous Substances Directive (DSD) remain a sound basis for chemicals management. The DSD provides an important platform for a wide range of down-stream EU legislation. However, many provisions of the Directive and its accompanying requirements are in serious need of modernisation, rationalisation and simplification. There is an urgent need to introduce greater clarity, speed and efficiency in the operation of the Directive. At the same time, high standards of protection for man and the environment must be ensured. To achieve these goals alongside the EU’s broader policy objectives the group has developed a set of 48 recommendations which aim to:

  • Rationalise the structure of the Directive, separating matters of policy and technical detail through an examination of the different elements and their legal form to make the legislation more transparent and easier to use, transpose and update;
  • Introduce speedier processes for classifying substances making better use of available data;
  • Improve the comprehensibility and usefulness of labels through the rationalisation of labelling provisions to eliminate redundant requirements and provide the necessary information to the user;
  • Ensure that the provisions for research and development, and criteria for notification of polymers do not stifle innovation and scientific development;
  • Simplify the notification requirements for intermediates reflecting the limited exposure of man and the environment; and introduce modifications in the notification system for low volume substances;
  • Re-allocate responsibilities between the Commission, the Competent Authorities and the notifier, and streamline working procedures to enhance efficiency and make more effective use of resources and expertise;
  • Ensure better access to information for users and the public;
  • Reduce unnecessary animal testing through more effective mechanisms to encourage data sharing.

Parallel to this analysis the European Commission is undertaking a broader review of EU chemicals legislation. Therefore proposed changes must take account of the implications of the wider review as well as the consequences for inter-related instruments.

At the same time, work at international level to develop a Globally Harmonised System (GHS) for the classification and labelling of chemicals has made significant progress. The recommendations reflect the importance of incorporating these wider global developments within the EU legal system.

The Records of the deliberations of the SLIM Group have been made available to all Competent Authorities and other stakeholders. All comments received have been considered by the Group.

Full text of the report (pdf ~120K)