31-Oct-2006 - European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC)

REACH - Chemical Employers and Chemical Workers' Unions join positions

The Partners of the Social Dialogue within the Chemical Industry, the European Mine, Chemicals and Energy Workers Federation (EMCEF) and the European Chemical Employers Group (ECEG) - member of the Cefic family (European Chemical Industry Council) - have agreed a joint position on REACH, the new EU chemicals legislation process, at a conference in Cracow (Poland).

Jean Pelin, President of ECEG said: "this is the third time that the Social Partners have agreed on principles of common interest to be taken into consideration in this important legislation. The present joint position addresses the current debates in the European Parliament, and especially the authorisation procedure". Reinhard Reibsch, Secretary General of EMCEFand Jean Pelin both underlined that "a workable authorisation process should propose substitution when risk cannot be adequately controlled by proper management, where an alternative substance exists and social and economic conditions allow".

The REACH regulation addresses manufacturing and use of chemical substances themselves and will provide a system for the registration of all chemicals and the authorisation of chemicals of high concern in Europe. The Social Partners reiterate their postulation for the system to remain balanced, efficient in delivering safety to all workers and users and workable, avoiding bureaucracy that would jeopardise the future of the chemical industry in Europe.

The authorisation procedure should especially use processes employed within the chemical Industry, which analyse the relevant use and exposure patterns of substances and lead to substitution if the substance cannot be handled safely. Substitution being the overarching scheme to ban substances of high concern without considering all solutions is not delivering any benefits to either society or business. Substitution is part of the history of chemicals but it is a complex process that involves all actors in the supply chain and cannot succeed without numerous conditions. REACH could in this way contribute to promoting research and development and new activities that would create sustainable jobs in the chemical sector.

The social partners therefore call legislators to give priority in the second reading to the main objectives of REACH, health and environment, by combining safety and workability and to confirm the results achieved so far in the Council's political agreement in order to make REACH a success

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