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You are here : Home > News > Speeches > May 2005 > Speech by Jeannot Krecké, Minister for Economy & Foreign Trade at the Luxembourg Presidency Workshop on REACH on 11 May 2005
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Speech by Jeannot Krecké, Minister for Economy & Foreign Trade at the Luxembourg Presidency Workshop on REACH on 11 May 2005

Date of Speech : 11-05-2005

Place : Luxembourg Kirchberg (European Court of Auditors)

Speaker : Jeannot Krecké

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

Event : Luxembourg Presidency REACH Workshop


Ladies and Gentlemen,

You are about to finish your work in this Workshop on REACH, gathering yesterday, today and tomorrow the main actors in the debate surrounding the reform of European legislation on chemicals (REACH).

It goes without saying that REACH is one of the priorities of the Luxembourg Presidency, because REACH is an important example of what could be a new type of European policy as part of the Lisbon process – founded on an integrated and balanced approach between the three dimensions of sustainable development, - environmental protection, social cohesion and competitiveness -.

Together with my colleague Lucien Lux, Minister for the Environment, I am trying to achieve a balanced, flexible and practicable project for REACH at all levels, without excessive bureaucracy, at corporate, national or European level.

I am convinced that your discussions on the impact studies will help us to find a common understanding regarding the probable effects of the REACH proposal. The Commission presented the use of this type of analysis as the instrument chosen in the efforts to ensure "a more coherent implementation of the European strategy for sustainable development." Developed within the framework of the 'Better regulation' programme, these analyses will provide essential assistance to political decision-making on REACH. Furthermore, REACH was one of the Commission’s first proposals to be accompanied by such an impact study. Additional studies analysed during our workshop are case studies that followed a common methodology and they do not concentrate on the vulnerability of certain supply chains. REACH has also heralded a new way of cooperating between the three decision-making bodies – the European parliament, the European Commission and the Council of the European Union – and with the stakeholders as defined in the memorandum of understanding. Therefore, I am delighted that representatives of all these actors are here today.

Let us remind ourselves of the Commission’s conclusions, which are as follows:

- substances manufactured in volumes lower than 100 tons per annum are more vulnerable than substances manufactured in higher volumes, which are unlikely to be vulnerable;

  • the probability that users downstream will be confronted with the withdrawal from the market of technically important substances is reduced;
  • single registration costs can be substantial and this can lead to a rationalisation of manufacturers’ portfolios;
  • reformulating and re-engineering costs are substantial for cases where a substance is withdrawn from the market;
  • it is difficult for SMEs to pass the registration costs on to users downstream;
  • users of raw materials in the inorganic sector need clarification and detailed information on the scope of REACH;
  • the impact of REACH on innovation is uncertain;
  • there are concerns regarding specific practicability and confidentiality;
  • businesses have identified some commercial benefits in REACH;
  • SMEs may be especially affected by REACH.

These conclusions, although hardly reassuring, must nevertheless remain uppermost in our minds to help us direct our efforts to drawing up proposals to improve and increase the practicability of REACH. It is evident that most of these aspects affect the area of substance registration and similarly with the alternative proposals discussed this very morning. The choice of proposals analysed in more detail was in line with the conclusions of the impact study. I am convinced that all these initiatives must be taken into account when drawing up the final text.  The aim is to assemble a coherent, integrated and practicable package, which should be well put together so as to reduce costs as much as possible without impinging on the protection of human health and the environment.

The final version of REACH will undoubtedly contain elements of proposals discussed yesterday and today, while taking account, of course, of other aspects that have been or will be the subject of political debate at Competitiveness and Environment Councils before reaching political agreement within the Council as envisaged by those who will come after us.

Discussions on OSOR (One Substance, One Registration), following the Hungarian-British proposal, dealt with the practical aspects of pre-registration and decisions regarding compulsory or voluntary data-sharing and cost-sharing schemes. Discussions on the technical aspects of improving Article 6 relating to substances in products mostly centred on monitoring aspects and scheme restrictions as envisaged for substances of concern and the introduction of thresholds. Nevertheless, the practical implementation of Article 6 remains complex. Most participants have found merit in the alternative Maltese-Slovenian approach concerning the recording and assessment of low volumes of substances (under 10 tons per year). The aim is to find a more practical scheme for the 20,000 or so substances that are particularly vulnerable, as their manufacture can no longer be guaranteed if REACH is adopted unchanged. The proposal deserves more detailed development and I am convinced that together with the OSOR elements, it will form part of the final text. The fact that this proposal has come from a consortium of two countries deserves particular consideration and, believe me, I know what I am talking about! The future work of the ad-hoc Group should also look at the interfaces between these different initiatives with a view to achieving a coherent whole that fills all the criteria of a legislative text that conforms to the concept of better regulation.

Finally, allow me also to remind the representatives of the Member States of a particular duty that falls to us as co-legislator: We need to ensure that companies which are part of our industrial heritage are well prepared and led in order to meet the REACH obligations.  I invite you to study the possibility of setting up helpdesks in your countries. These national REACH helpdesks will be close to businesses, will speak their language and adopt their customs and habits. They will be part of a network led by the Agency and will help make REACH practicable on the ground, I am sure.

Finally, you are no doubt wondering what kind of follow-up there will be to the work done in this workshop. Following the example of our Dutch predecessors, the Presidency will inform the Competitiveness and Environment Councils of the conclusions and recommendations, which will in turn have their repercussions at ministerial level. Thus, the workshop will have an impact on the future work of the Council in terms of REACH.

Thank you for taking such an active part in our workshop and thank you for joining our ideas laboratory initiative to improve REACH. I wish you a safe journey and remain convinced that you will maintain the momentum created during these two days to achieve a practicable REACH, maintaining a balance between reducing costs and protecting human health and the environment.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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This page was last modified on : 12-05-2005

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