Brexit and The Future of Chemicals Regulation

Will Brexit risk our health and our environment?

The Environmental Audit Committee is launching a second inquiry into the future of environmental law and policy following the result of the EU Referendum. It will focus on the future of the European Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). Please send written submissions using this form.

The EU has adopted several pieces of legislation on chemicals, which are primarily ‘trade regulations’ harmonising the conditions under which chemicals can be placed on the market. The aim of REACH is to protect human health and the environment. REACH shifts the responsibility from public authorities to industry with regards to assessing and managing the risks posed by chemicals and providing appropriate safety information for their users. REACH is constantly evolving, having been amended 38 times since it was enacted in 2006. REACH is enforced by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and relatively little of its regulation has been transposed into UK law.

The Future of Chemicals Regulation after the EU Referendum, parliament uk, 21 December 2016.

Will Brexit risk our health? UK MPs start inquiry into chemicals regulation after the EU referendum, chem trust, JANUARY 11, 2017.

Image credit Javier Díaz Barrera.

It has been estimated that the chemicals industry is the UK’s largest manufacturing exporter. The industry produces products which are fundamental to many other sectors of the economy – from energy to clothing, motor manufacturing to agriculture, food standards to children’s toys.

The Prime Minister has said that leaving the EU will involve converting the body of EU law into British law (via a “Great Repeal Bill”). However, the Government has said that up to a third of EU environmental law cannot be simply ‘copy pasted’ into UK law and will require additional work to ensure that the UK maintains the current level of environmental protection. REACH was cited in the evidence to our Future of the Natural Environment inquiry as one of these challenging areas.

This inquiry will examine the future of chemicals regulation in the UK after the Referendum result, with a particular focus on the possible impacts on environmental protection, public safety and the UK chemicals industry.

The Committee invites submissions on some or all of the questions below:

Transposition

  • What particular challenges will the UK Government face when it seeks to transpose REACH into UK law through the “Great Repeal Bill”?
  • How far will the UK’s ability to effectively transpose REACH depend on negotiations with other Member States and the nature of the UK’s future relationship with the EU (e.g. Single Market membership)?
  • What role should the devolved administrations play in setting the regulatory environment in this area? How should any divergences in policy be managed?

Administrative, Policy and Regulatory Implications

  • How should administrative and enforcement responsibilities, which are currently being carried out by the European Commission or EU Agencies (such as ECHA), be transferred to domestic bodies?
  • What are the likely implications for industry in terms of regulation, environmental and safety standards?
  • Does the UK Government have the requisite expertise and resources to take on these tasks?

Future of Chemical Industry

  • What scope is there for the UK to pursue a divergent approach to chemicals regulation from the EU once the process of leaving has been completed?
  • What principles should a UK chemicals regulation regime follow?
  • What are the likely practical implications of having a UK-only chemicals regulatory policy for:
    1. The Environment?
    2. Public Safety?
    3. UK Industry
  • What key features should any new regime have to ensure these are not compromised?

CHEM Trust will be submitting its views on this important issue, emphasising :

  • the importance for public health & the environment of having effective regulation of chemicals;
  • the role of REACH as a world-leading regulation system, even though it is not perfect;
  • potential risks from the UK becoming detached from REACH, and the challenges of creating a new regulatory system.

Author: DES Daughter

Activist, blogger and social media addict committed to shedding light on a global health scandal and dedicated to raise DES awareness.

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