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EU | 14 April 2022

REACH 2 Risk management system – doing much more with limited resources

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REACH 2 Risk management system – doing much more with limited resources

The ongoing reform of REACH is a unique opportunity to speed-up the regulation of hazardous chemicals. The reform should provide the EU institutions and States tools fit for the task, so that they can, despite limited resources, shift the status of the most harmful chemicals from legal to illegal.

Unfortunately the solutions proposed by the European Commission in its impact assessment do not seem capable of delivering a truly effective risk management system, that would address some of the structural weaknesses of the system in place: the “fast-track” restriction process of Article 68.2 (targeting consumer uses of CMRs) is almost never used; the “longer” restriction process under Article 68.1, albeit used, demands a heavy burden of proof and so fails to deliver ambitious measures; and the powerful Annex XIV (created for critical situations requiring a blanket ban, such as high volumes of the most hazardous substances) has been turned into a contentious and resource intensive process.

As a contribution to the REACH reform’s impact assessment, this paper suggests changes that would allow a better balance between all processes, by making sure restriction pathways are made less burdensome and used effectively, while ensuring that only a limited number of uses are eligible and scrutinised for time-limited exemptions. Only if each process brings its specific added value to the system, while contributing to a consistent approach, can the new risk management system under REACH deliver the goal of the Chemicals Strategy: i.e. the significant reduction of the production, use and impact of hazardous chemicals.