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Chemicals | 18 March 2019

The “streamlining” of authorisation: efficiency versus leniency

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The “streamlining” of authorisation: efficiency versus leniency

On Monday 18 March, at a Chemical Watch conference, ClientEarth Chemicals lawyer, Alice Bernard, presented how EU chemical law (REACH) and in particular the authorisation regime, has been misapplied.

The presentation highlights key shortcomings in the way EU decision makers - including individual EU governments who are voting on these decisions - have been granting “authorisations”.

Building on the recent judgment of the EU court, ClientEarth proposes areas of focus for change so that the authorisation process can achieve its main objective: effectively pushing innovation in a direction beneficial to public health and the environment.

Chemicals that are subject to this authorisation regime are all previously classified officially as “substances of very high concern” because of their hazardous properties (e.g carcinogenic). When a chemical is put on the “authorisation list” it does not mean it is allowed actually, it means companies have to apply for an authorisation to be allowed to use it in the EU. To obtain the right to use these dangerous chemicals, companies notably have to show that no suitable alternatives are available. This is a powerful mechanism meant to drive industry’s R&D towards solutions that do not involve using such dangerous chemicals.