British and European trade groups and NGOs have urged heads of state and government to ensure EU27 and UK regulatory systems “remain highly aligned” after Britain withdraws from the trade bloc on 29 March.
Their open letter, published in today’s Financial Times, comes a day before a crucial EU summit at which leaders will debate progress on Brexit negotiations.
Cefic, the UK’s Chemical Industries Association (CIA) and NGOs CHEM Trust and the European Environmental Bureau said regulatory alignment will “allow for continuity and consistency for companies and regulatory bodies operating on both sides of the Channel”.
It will also, they added, “ensure a framework for the continued development and implementation of high health, safety and environmental standards”.
In their letter they single out REACH, noting the “significant investments” that companies in the UK and on the continent have made in registrations. They have also, the group said, shared data and safety information to enable marketing and use of substances in European countries, including Britain.
The UK has made “major contributions” to building Echa’s “world-leading” database on chemicals, with British companies contributing nearly 6,000 registered substances, the letter said.
If the UK is outside of REACH after it withdraws from the EU, companies on both sides of the Channel would need to duplicate pre-existing registration duties for a UK-REACH.
“This would not only weaken the international competitiveness of both EU- and UK-based chemical companies but, more importantly, also risk divergence of health, safety and environmental levels of protection.”
The “best solution”, the group said, is to allow the UK “to remain within (and bound by) REACH and participating in Echa […] as long as the UK accepts the conditions set by the EU-27”.
This solution, they said, “makes sense irrespective of” the outcome of broader discussions on the UK’s position with regard to the EU single market. “A strong REACH is in everybody’s interest.”
At the end of September, the British government published guidance on REACH in the event that the UK leaves the EU without a trade deal. Cefic and the CIA drafted their own advice to industry shortly after.
And last week, for the same scenario, the UK government issued technical notices on EU regulations concerning:
By Luke Buxton
Source: Chemical Watch
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