Chemicals Regulation (UK Brexit Preparedness)

Very little direct Brexit instruction is published by the UK on Chemicals Regulation, beyond the UK Technical Notices (I already posted about on this Blog). The EU also has its own Brexit Preparedness Notices (I already posted about on this Blog).

Today (7th November) the House of Lords EU European Union Committee published its report of evidence taken on the matter. This report is here,

There is agreement between the Government, industry and NGOs that the UK’s continued participation in REACH, the main system of EU chemical regulation, and continued membership of the European Chemicals Agency would be the best Brexit outcome.

But UK Brexit Preparedness is not advanced.

The Report identifies the following as requiring urgent attention (by Government) :

(1) clarifying its intended approach to chemical regulation in the future;

(2) creating and populating a database of chemicals;

(3) preparing a UK body to take on the role of chemical regulation in a way that is independent, transparent and scientifically robust;

(4) enabling businesses, including small businesses, to take pre-emptive action to maintain valid registrations for the EU market; and

(5) mitigating the economic impact on the chemical industry that would result from leaving the EU system.

NOTE THIS (referring to the evidence taken)

If associate membership of and ongoing participation in ECHA are not negotiated by exit day, a number of challenges arise. The first is the fact that, barring any preventative action, all chemical registrations will become invalid in the UK, and all registrations made solely by UK companies will become invalid in the EU. This would prevent the trade and use of those chemicals.

Peter Smith, Executive Director for Product Stewardship at Cefic, explained that there were 21,000 chemicals registered through REACH, 5,000 of which were registered by UK companies.

However, Ms Bulleid made the point that where one of those 5,000 substances is registered jointly by both a UK-based company and an EU-27-based company, “some people will be able to put it on the [EU] market, but the UK registrants will not”.

Ms Lloyd agreed, stating that chemicals registered by UK companies will not be invalid in the EU “unless the only registrants of that substance are UK companies”.

As a result, UK companies will lose access to the EU market, but the number of chemicals that would be prohibited is unclear.

THE REPORT CONTINUES WITH THE EVIDENCE GIVEN BY MINISTERS ON THEIR STEPS ON THE MATTER OF ILLEGAL REGISTRATIONS – these include :

(1) a new statutory instrument (Brexit Regulation) to continue the validity of UK registrations by UK registered companies for the UK market

(2) a DEFRA Secretary of State observation (based on the EU Brexit Preparedness Notices) that UK companies can mitigate by transferring their registration to an EU based affiliate or representative, but this is acknowledged as not possible in advance of exit day so there would be

a void of weeks or months before such companies are able to export substances to the EU.

Ms Edwards acknowledged this difficulty, stating that “there has been some discussion suggesting that you would need some sort of mechanism in place to enable those registrations to be transferred in advance”, but indicating that no such provision had yet been put in place

ON THE MATTER OF THE UK DATABASE

Ms Peake informed us: “Defra has asked for £5.8 million to set up an IT infrastructure to register chemicals in the UK in the case of having to set up an independent UK chemicals regulation system.”

Ms Edwards stated: “We are trying to build a system that will replicate, as far as it can, what the ECHA system does. Some of the fuller functionality that is not necessarily required on day one will come on board on a slightly slower timescale, but the critical thing for day one is to have that registration function in place.”

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