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German state official sets out REACH Review wishlist

Echa should cancel REACH registrations “in cases of serious violations”, says the head of the chemicals division in Lower Saxony’s environment ministry.

Michael Braedt said the agency should do this by withdrawing the registration number in such cases, as he gave a rundown of changes that his ministry would like to see in the European Commission’s REACH Review.

Lower Saxony originally made the suggestion as part of its response to the first REACH Review in 2012. But, at that time, “Echa said they would only do it if the registrant refuses to pay the fee.”

Mr Braedt’s comments came in his presentation today at Chemical Watch‘s Enforcement Summit in Brussels.

Authorisation complicated

He also said it might be “more effective” to move some SVHCs from the authorisation to the restriction procedure because the former is “very lengthy, complicated and expensive – especially for SMEs”. He suggested that it should be possible to remove a substance from the candidate list of SVHCs.

“This is something the environment ministry in Lower Saxony is discussing now and some colleagues have said the switch would be less complicated.”

He explained that, in Germany, the enforcement of EU and German federal legislation is the responsibility of each German state.

For the 2012 REACH Review, Lower Saxony’s Governmental Commission – which has a chemicals working group – sent recommendations to the Commission, European Parliament and Echa. It will repeat the process for the current Review, which is due to be completed next year, and these will include “the possibility of changing the REACH Regulation itself”.

Re-registrations after 2018?

Lower Saxony will also call for “clear procedural pathways for the registration of substances, after the last deadline”. For example, if a company decides not to produce a substance in 2019 but then decides it will the following year, should it have to submit a new registration?

He added that the Commission’s better regulation REFIT programme and REACH Review must make REACH more effective and “not damage the precautionary principle, which guarantees a very high level of safety for humans and the environment.

“We have to fight for [it],” he said, on issues like the identification of endocrine disrupting chemicals, where he argued the Commission’s stance is driven by its desire to successfully finalise trade deals with the US and Canada.

Other recommendations, first made by the state in 2012, and which it says remain valid, include extending the obligation on companies to respond to the question on SVHCs, whether their products contain them or not.

Another is that the Commission should propose regulating nanomaterials in a specific REACH annex. At a conference in Berlin last month, he said that Bjorn Hansen of the Commission’s environment directorate said it might happen by 2018.