EU Commission Work Programme (EU)

On 18 October 2022, the European Commission adopted its 2023 work programme (CWP), entitled ‘A Union Standing Firm and United’. It outlines the Commission’s policy initiatives for 2023, and how it would achieve the headline ambitions in Commission President von der Leyen’s Political Guidelines as set out at the start of her mandate.

The 2023 CWP frames the EU’s headline ambitions within the context of global challenges: in Ukraine, on energy, on the environment, and the fall-out of these developments on the global economy.

The 2023 CWP contains 43 new policy initiatives, eight suggestions to simplify regulation, and 116 pending “priority proposals” for legislation.

Re European Green Deal – the core Fit for 55 package from the 2021 CWP continues, added to this is a new planned revision of EU REACH and a call for binding targets to restore degraded ecosystems.

Note as part of EU Fit for 55, the European Parliament and Council already agreed on stricter regulation of greenhouse gas emissions in member states including less flexibility and more transparency – here.

Also, the Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) is a key element of EU Fit for 55 – here.

Note re UK REACH – the UK’s Defra department is exploring An Alternative Transitional Registration Model which would apply to Britain. Presently EU REACH applies to Northern Ireland.

The EU continues to exchange views on chemicals regulatory developments with the UK, including through the Specialised Committee on Technical Barriers to Trade set up under the Trade and Cooperation Agreement that was agreed with the UK.

EU REACH lead shot ban (EU)

25 Jan 2021 amendment to EU REACH – here – bans lead shot in or around wetlands. The amendment is made to EU REACH Annex XVII (the marketing and use restrictions).

From 15 February 2023, a list of activities involving use of lead shot in or within 100 metres of wetlands is banned.

“wetlands” means areas of marsh, fen, peatland or water, whether natural or
artificial, permanent or temporary, with water that is static or flowing, fresh, brackish or salt, including areas of marine water the depth of which at low tide does not exceed 6 metres.

Reaction to this ban is here.

In addition, ECHA (the European Chemicals Agency) has published its proposals for further restrictions on the use of lead in ammunition for hunting, outdoor sports shooting and fishing.

The ECHA proposals are described and found here.

EU REACH and UK REACH (UK from 1st Jan)

Like CLP (see my blog post on CLP), the key principles of the European Union (EU) REACH Regulation are retained. This document is included (separated into four line entries) in our Brexit Consolidated Law project (the coloured list in Cardinal Environment EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists).

From 1 January 2021, UK REACH and EU REACH will operate independently from each other. Companies that are supplying and purchasing substances, mixtures or articles to and from the EU/EEA/Northern Ireland and Britain (England, Scotland and Wales) will need to ensure that the relevant duties are met under both systems.

EU REACH will apply to Northern Ireland from 1st Jan, while UK REACH will regulate the access of substances to the GB market.

GB- based Businesses holding EU REACH Registrations (in ECHA)

The EU REACH registration will be (and must be) legally recognised (grandfathered) in the UK REACH system after 31st Dec, but information will be supplied to the HSE (the UK REACH regulator) via an account (the holder sets up) on the new UK REACH IT system.

* initial information on the existing EU REACH registration within 120 days of 31st Dec.

* technical information (required under UK REACH) within 300 days plus either 2, 4 or 6 years of 31st Dec. The deadline depends on the tonnage and/or hazard profile of substances.

Grandfathering will be available (and will be required) for all registrations (including intermediates) held by GB-based entities, including importers and Only Representatives (ORs) based in Britain, and to sole, lead or joint registrants.

All GB-based registrations that exist on 31st Dec, and all registrations held by GB entities at any point since 29 March 2017 will be grandfathered. This means that if a GB registration was transferred to an EU/EEA/NI-based entity in the run-up to 31st Dec, it will still be grandfathered into UK REACH.

Grandfathering will not apply to registrations held by entities established outside of Britain, regardless of whether they are part of a group of companies which also has a presence in Britain. Those registrations will not be grandfathered, unless they have been transferred to a GB entity before 31st Dec.

Before transferring any registrations, the HSE asks you to consider how this would affect your operations in the EU/EEA and Northern Ireland, and your ability to access the EU/EEA and NI markets in future.

The HSE says any ECHA decisions relevant to a registration(s) will remain valid.

Access to the technical information used for EU REACH registration may require renegotiating commercial contracts/letters of access which were originally put in place for EU REACH under a Substance Information Exchange Forum (SIEF).

UK REACH will not require GB companies to form a Substance Information Exchange Forum (SIEF) to submit registration data, including under the grandfathering provisions. UK REACH will include a similar Article 26 substance inquiry system to EU REACH to facilitate the principle of ‘one substance, one registration’ which will be retained under UK REACH.

This link gives access to HSE details of the information that must be submitted (scroll down)

Separate Rules apply for GB- based businesses that are downstream users and distributors if they continue to be supplied from the EU/EEA – read here.

GB- based businesses importing non EU/EEA substances Businesses that act only as importers of substances will not be able to appoint an Only Representative (OR) under EU REACH (only a manufacturer, formulator or producer of articles can do so). This means that, as a GB-based importer, you will not have the option to transfer your EU REACH registrations to an EU-based entity OR to continue selling into the EU/EEA or Northern Ireland.

To sell chemicals to EU/EEA or NI customers you should:

* help your EU/EEA and NI-based customers to register with ECHA as importers

or

* work with the non-EU/EEA or NI-based manufacturer who supplies you to encourage them to appoint an OR based in Northern Ireland or an EU/EEA country, who can register the substance with ECHA. The HSE advises you will need to consider in each case whether this registration will be sufficient to allow you to export the substance into the EU/EEA or Northern Ireland.

For mixtures to be placed on the EU/EEA or NI markets you should ensure that each substance at one-tonne or over is registered with ECHA in accordance with EU REACH directly by someone EU-based in your supply chain (again see above re OR).

GB- based Businesses holding EU REACH Authorisations (in ECHA)

Again, these will be grandfathered. The deadline here is 60 days from 31st Dec for information supply to HSE –

* the information included in the application for the authorisation

* any other information provided to ECHA by the applicant for the authorisation which was material to the formation of ECHA’s opinion

* any information required to be submitted or recorded before 31st Dec under any condition under which the authorisation is granted.

Separate Rules apply for GB- based businesses that are downstream users and distributors if they continue to be supplied by anyone with an EU REACH authorisation – read here.

Link to HSE information for GB- based Businesses bringing to GB NI- registered goods under EU REACH (qualifying Northern Ireland goods – QNIGs) – here.

Link to HSE information for NI- based businesses trading QNIGs – here.

Note : see above re GB holders of EU REACH registrations.

LINK to HSE for further scenarios.