EU policy and legislation on chemicals: Overview, with a focus on REACH

19-12-2016

This publication presents an overview of European Union policy on chemicals. It describes EU chemicals legislation, in particular the REACH Regulation, as well as other relevant legislative acts and international agreements on chemicals. However, it does not address the regulatory framework applicable to pesticides (plant protection products and biocides) in depth. The publication presents information available about the costs and benefits of EU chemicals legislation and gives an overview of the opportunities and challenges associated with the current legal framework. It outlines relevant views of stakeholders and the European Parliament. Finally, the publication lays out actions that the European Commission is expected to take in the years to come. Chemicals are the building blocks of life. They are present in us, around us and in the products we buy. They are used in almost all industries and play an important role in virtually all economic sectors. The EU chemicals sector represents 1.1 % of EU gross domestic product and accounts for about 1.2 million jobs. Chemicals enable us to live more comfortable lives, yet they may also have adverse effects on the environment and human health. The cornerstone of EU chemicals legislation is the 2006 Regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (widely known as REACH). Other major legislative acts relate to the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals, in order to ensure that hazards are clearly communicated to consumers and workers; the export and import of hazardous chemicals and the control of persistent organic pollutants, partly implementing international agreements; the prevention of major accidents involving dangerous chemicals; and the management of pesticides. The European Commission is currently carrying out fitness checks on the chemicals legislation. Actions in the coming years are expected to relate to a range of topics, such as the process of application for authorisation, nano¬materials, a strategy for a non-toxic environment, registration requirements for low volume substances, and polymers.

This publication presents an overview of European Union policy on chemicals. It describes EU chemicals legislation, in particular the REACH Regulation, as well as other relevant legislative acts and international agreements on chemicals. However, it does not address the regulatory framework applicable to pesticides (plant protection products and biocides) in depth. The publication presents information available about the costs and benefits of EU chemicals legislation and gives an overview of the opportunities and challenges associated with the current legal framework. It outlines relevant views of stakeholders and the European Parliament. Finally, the publication lays out actions that the European Commission is expected to take in the years to come. Chemicals are the building blocks of life. They are present in us, around us and in the products we buy. They are used in almost all industries and play an important role in virtually all economic sectors. The EU chemicals sector represents 1.1 % of EU gross domestic product and accounts for about 1.2 million jobs. Chemicals enable us to live more comfortable lives, yet they may also have adverse effects on the environment and human health. The cornerstone of EU chemicals legislation is the 2006 Regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (widely known as REACH). Other major legislative acts relate to the classification, labelling and packaging of chemicals, in order to ensure that hazards are clearly communicated to consumers and workers; the export and import of hazardous chemicals and the control of persistent organic pollutants, partly implementing international agreements; the prevention of major accidents involving dangerous chemicals; and the management of pesticides. The European Commission is currently carrying out fitness checks on the chemicals legislation. Actions in the coming years are expected to relate to a range of topics, such as the process of application for authorisation, nano¬materials, a strategy for a non-toxic environment, registration requirements for low volume substances, and polymers.