The revision of REACH was set to be introduced by the commission by the end of 2022, however, the Commission’s 2023 work programme outlines that the proposal is to be completed by late 2023. MEPs and stakeholders from all sides are pushing for the revision to be released no later than June 2023, when the current trio presidency concludes.
Critics argue that having the proposal delivered too late would not allow the review and implementation of the REACH revision before the current term of the Parliament and Commission concludes in 2024, and pushing implementation to the next term may cause years of further delays. Stakeholders from both industry and environmental backgrounds argue that until there is no proposal available, industries and SME-s will not be able create long-term strategies due to uncertainty.
During the exchage of views between the European Parliament’s Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety (ENVI) and the European Commission in March, MEPs expressed further concerns. Content wise, calls were made by MEP Maria Spyraki to implement Classification, Labelling and Packaging (CLP) regulation and the Safe and Sustainable by Design (SSPD) principle into reach – the latter being a key theme of the most recent High Level Roundtable on the Implementation of Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. She also highlighted the importance of harmonisation and simplification. MEP-s focused on enviroment criticised underemphasis on sustainability and health aspects compared to economic ones, especially in light of the recent PFAS pollution developments. The role of OLAF in ensuring that the import of chemicals can be controlled in accordance to REACH was also discussed, as well as animal testing rules.
In response, representatives of the Commission stated that the quality of the proposal takes priority over its speed, and compatibility with other regulations as well as limiting administrative burden must be ensured. In addition, implementing the wide range of views of the parliament and stakeholders is also a time-consuming process. Commission representatives acknowledged the sense of urgency, and attempted to reassure critics by highlighting that the commission is committed to the speedy delivery of the revision, and all content-related issues will be taken into consideration in the final proposal. Finally, they also highlighted that the existing REACH already addresses numerous issues mentioned. This, however, failed to satisfy MEP-s as many of them suspects political reasons behind the delay, and consider communication between the Commission and the Parliament lacking. In addition, proponents of the revision argue that the dire PFAS situation developed due to the limitations of the current REACH.
The REACH revision is part of the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. EuChemS is an invited member of the High Level Roundtable on the implementation of this strategy, on the February meeting of which, the sentiment was similar: many representatives of invited stakeholders took the opportunity of having Commission representatives to express their calls for urging REACH revision by June. Yet, in both cases, the Commission firmly expressed that it intends to stick to the timeline.