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Speech by Jeannot Krecké, Minister for the Economy and External Trade, to the European Parliament (REACH legislation)

Date of Speech : 19-01-2005

Place : Brussels

Speaker : Jeannot Krecké

Policy area : Competitiveness (Internal market, Industry and Research) Competitiveness (Internal market, Industry and Research)

Event : Joint speeches to the European Parliament on new REACH regulation

Mr President,


President of the Commission,

Ladies and Gentlemen,

It gives me great pleasure this morning to co-present to the European Parliament with my colleague Lucien Lux, Minister for the Environment, the intentions of the Luxembourg Presidency in the REACH dossier. The Luxembourg Presidency follows that of our Dutch friends. May I take this opportunity to congratulate the Dutch Presidency for their efficient and committed work on this and many other dossiers. Much progress was made in the examination of the REACH dossier under the Dutch Presidency. I hope to be able to say as much in six months’ time when the Luxembourg Presidency comes to an end.

The importance the European Parliament attaches to REACH is well illustrated by this public hearing, jointly organised by its Committees on Environment, Industry and Internal Market.

I am pleased that the commitment of the European Union and its institutions is equal to the ambitious and multidimensional objectives of this new regulation. REACH is an important example of what the new type of European policy could look like within the framework of the Lisbon process, based on an integrated and balanced approach between the three pillars of sustainable development, namely environmental protection, social cohesion and competitivity of our economies.

In its communication on the impact studies, the Commission presented the use of this type of analysis as the chosen instrument in its effort to ensure "a more coherent implementation of the European strategy for sustainable development". Developed within the framework of the "Better lawmaking" programme, this analysis will provide essential guidance to political decision-making on REACH. Furthermore, REACH was one of the Commission’s first proposals to be accompanied by such an impact study. As you are well aware, many other studies on the impact of REACH have followed.

These new studies have often focused on very specific effects of the legislation project. As such, these studies have highlighted, among others, the:

  • estimated effects on the costs and employment of one sector or the other;
  • advantages in terms of future costs of decontamination or treatment of avoided diseases;
  • not to forget saved expenditures in terms of  loss of life quality following serious illness as a result of using a substance without knowing its properties or effects. 

As a result of the workshop organised in The Hague in October, and after many long days of diligent work, the Dutch Presidency was able to draw common conclusions on over 30 such impact studies. One of the greatest merits of the Dutch Presidency was to have created a common base of understanding as to the likely effects of the REACH proposal. This common base is necessary for the vital work of the Parliament and the Council, which involves finding areas where there is potential for improvement.

As the detailed reading progresses in the working groups of the Parliament and the Council, we are sure that such alternatives will be put forward. We have seen many of them coming out of the think-tank that is the Council’s ad-hoc "chemical products" group, and I am convinced that the same applies to the working groups of your committees.

In this respect, I have noted with satisfaction that a few moments ago the Commission expressed its willingness to modify its text by taking into consideration the alternative proposals aimed at improving the efficiency of the REACH package.

The REACH proposal is an integrated and complex whole, which lives up to its objectives and ambitions. Attempting to amend it is a difficult task. Therefore, we are continuing our reading of the proposal, as my colleague Lucien Lux will inform you. This will allow the ideas forwarded in our groups time to mature without delaying the examination of the other modules of the Commission’s proposal.

It is for this reason that we will be organising on 10 and 11 May 2005 a restricted workshop based on the fundamentals provided in The Hague. We will invite the reporters of your committees to the workshop, as well as the delegations of the Council, to present those concrete proposals that aim to improve the feasibility of REACH. We will be guided by the concern to ensure that these improvements will be made in areas where they are most workable, without jeopardising the existing political agreement on the European strategy for sustainable development.

We will also invite the Commission to submit the results of the new impact study conducted within the framework of the memorandum of understanding between the Commission and industry, and to which the NGOs are linked through the high-level group.

Therefore, may I without delay call upon your creativity and commitment in order to bring about a win-win situation in which the favourable effects of REACH may multiply without increasing costs, and where the costs may be lowered without weakening environmental and human-health protection.

This page was last modified on : 20-01-2005

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