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17 July 2019
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- Chemicals

EFA was present in the conference on EU chemicals policy 2030, organised by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Brussels on 27-28 June. On the 1st day, EFA joined the session on ‘Improving the regulatory framework for risk assessment and risk management of hazardous chemicals’.

Harmonising national legislation: Cross-sectoral chemical regulatory agenda

The Head of Unit on Scientific Evaluation of Regulated Products at EFSA, Guilhem de Seze, briefly presented the work undertaken by the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) in the area of chemicals in food.

Described as a collaborative and distributed EU risk assessment process, EFSA adopts a cross-sectoral chemical regulatory agenda aiming to harmonise the different national legislations by improving data interoperability and alignment of methods.

Demands for an overarching chemicals regulatory framework and science-based decision-making

From an environmental perspective, Tatiana Santos of the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) exposed EEB’s vision of eliminating the exposure of people and the environment to hazardous chemicals. She further called for an overarching, independent and up-to-date chemicals regulatory framework.

Closing with the presentations, Sylvie Lemoine of the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) reiterated the priorities of the industry. In particular, she referred to regulatory predictability, improving implementation and enforcement, and a better integration of science into decision-making.

Participants agree on need for an inclusive, harmonised and coherent framework

The participants agreed that an inclusive, harmonised and coherent framework for risk assessment/management should be defined.

To achieve this vision, priority actions include a comprehensive monitoring process to collect data, harmonised and sufficiently resourced enforcement, and independent safety testing with funds from industry.

Promoting a safe Circular Economy, effective regulation and global leadership

On the 2nd day, EFA joined the session on Moving the EU Chemicals Policy to 2030: promoting a safe Circular Economy, effective regulation and global leadership’.

ECHA Executive Director, Bjorn Hansen, emphasised the importance of greater knowledge of substances for the benefit of safety, while Bernhard Url, Executive Director of EFSA, cautioned on the rapid increase of global population and its transformative effect on food and the environment.

Theresa Kjell from Chemsec made the case for a faster and better policy on chemicals, based on the precautionary principle and looking at other policy areas such as the circular economy. Also, Director General of CEFIC, Marco Mensink, stressed on the fact that the main problem in chemicals is that the EU is largely acting alone, as other countries do not have such an advanced legislation in place.

EU has potential in building more knowledge about chemicals exposure and use

Wrapping up the discussions of the two-day conference, Kestutis Sadauskas, Director of Circular Economy and Green Growth at the European Commission Directorate General on Environment, pointed that the new policy context requires brave actions ensuring that the EU industry remains competitive. He also stressed that the EU can do better in building knowledge about chemicals exposure and use, and the monitoring of the substances’ lifetime.