A European Union scheme for tight Europe-wide controls on industrial chemicals will offer universities a new revenue stream, officials in Brussels predict.
David Wilkinson, head of the scientific relations directorate at the European Commission's Joint Research Centre, predicted "remunerative work for universities" as a result of the scheme. He said the plan would not affect the use of chemicals in universities and research laboratories.
The JRC's research facilities near Ispra, on Lake Maggiore, is a possible site for a future European Chemicals Agency. "The location of the agency is still to be decided, but Ispra already has the European Chemicals Bureau, and a great deal of know-how in toxicology," Mr Wilkinson said.
JRC laboratories, collaborating with other European laboratories, will establish safety parameters and testing methods for chemicals to be used in industry.
The Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals programme has yet to be approved. "The aim is not to set up a huge bureaucracy to carry out the tests, but to provide a central agency for the registration of information and the issue of certificates authorising testing methods," Mr Wilkinson said.
Industry fears the scheme will involve extra costs but the JRC insisted this was not the case.