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France urges robust REACH authorisation, SVHC actions in ECHA plan

The French competent authority is calling on Echa to include measures to strengthen the REACH authorisation process in its strategic plan for the next five years.

France’s comments – along with those of member states, NGOs and industry – were submitted to the agency’s recent consultation on the draft plan for 2019-23.

Echa has set three priorities for that period:

identification and risk management of substances of concern;
safe and sustainable use of chemicals by industry; and
sustainable management of chemicals by applying EU legislation.

The member state also wants the process to be accelerated and said that inclusion of a substance in Annex XIV – the authorisation list – is a “cumbersome process” and that all chemicals that “should be” on the list are not.

Furthermore, France wants Echa to work to “strengthen the coupled use of authorisation and restriction procedures” to create a “simplified procedure to obtain bans on (imported) articles containing Annex XIV substances”. This, it said, will protect European industry while ensuring its security of supply.

The agency should also create initiatives for producers and importers to provide data on the SVHC content of products, it said. “Attention should be given to the control of online sales for the period 2019-23, taking into account, as part of these controls, the REACH obligations relating to substances in the articles (restrictions in particular).”

In the area of the “emerging concerns” of endocrine disruptors, nanomaterials and cocktail effects of chemicals, France said Echa’s plan should include information on work done so far and “lay down ambitious avenues for the period ahead”.

And the plan “needs to highlight that Echa will need to ensure the credibility and reliability” of devices to speed up compliance checks of REACH registration dossiers, it added.

In a similar vein, the German competent authority observed the agency should use its resources to improve the quality of registration dossiers. It should also increase support for Echa committees when adopting opinions on authorisations or restrictions rather than “promoting best business practices”.

Echa’s primary goal, it added, should be to fulfil its role as a regulatory authority. It should place “more emphasis” on the identification and risk management of substances of concern “and not on the support of industry complying with their legal obligations”.