Plans by Brussels to put a straight jacket on the European chemicals industry have been relaxed somewhat after the outcry from both the chemical sector and the most affected countries (Germany, France and the UK) who have argued that the legislation could cripple the industry. The two European commissioners who are sponsoring the law, Erkki Liikanen (industrial policy) and Margot Wallström (environment) have agreed to a revised proposal that will make the strict data registration compulsory for far fewer chemicals than originally envisaged.

The purpose of the legislation is to shift the burden of proof to the industry, forcing companies to provide data showing that their substances can be used safely or, failing that, proving that the benefits outweigh the risks. Environmental groups claim that the amendments make the substitution of hazardous chemicals less likely and also allow companies to withhold more information than initially envisaged. ‘The confidentiality clause is now very strong and I don’t think that will increase consumer confidence in the chemical industry’, said Mary Taylor of Friends of the Earth.

The Commission says: ‘In certain aspects the document has become greener while at the same time addressing costs and testing, issues which have been a concern of industry.’ The latest proposal still needs the backing of the entire Commission before being forwarded to the EU ministers.

Source: The Financial Times