Brussels, 13 May 2005
Rather than creating additional costs for industry as some fear, the EU's proposed new chemicals package (REACH) will 'give a push to competitiveness in Europe', according to Luxembourg's Minister for the Environment, Lucien Lux.
Speaking during a two-day REACH workshop organised by the Luxembourg Presidency on 10 and 11 May, Mr Lux welcomed a recent impact assessment study on the proposed legislation by consulting firm KPMG, which concluded that the additional costs to industry were negligible.
'The KPMG study, presented during the workshop, dispelled the fears and catastrophic scenarios depicted by some. We can, henceforth, exclude these scenarios that might follow the introduction of REACH. They will not take place,' declared Mr Lux.
The impact assessment also concluded, however, that it was unlikely that the proposals would stimulate companies to invest more in research and innovation. But Mr Lux argued that 'a modern regulation of chemical products that focuses on health and environmental protection constitutes less of a brake than an asset for European competitiveness.'
According to the Luxembourg Presidency, the workshop represented the first occasion that all of the REACH stakeholders - namely the Commission, Parliament, Council, employers groups, NGOs and unions - were gathered in one place. According to one observer, 'debates were frank, open and very constructive.'
Jeannot Krecké, Luxembourg's Minister for the Economy and External Trade, explained that the Presidency's objectives for REACH, which it made a key priority of its leadership of the EU, are twofold: to define a package that is feasible for industry and which represents a real advance in environmental protection.
To achieve the first of these objectives, particular attention should be paid to the needs of small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs), said the minister. 'Consequently, they will be assisted, trained and guided in their adaptation to REACH through national help desks. These helpdesks will supply specific information on the modalities, the methods and functioning, as well as the possibilities offered by REACH,' explained a subsequent Presidency statement.
Regarding the timetable for formal adoption of the proposals, Mr Krecké indicated that a political agreement would most likely be reached during the UK Presidency, which begins in July. He concluded by saying: 'The Luxembourg Presidency has put the REACH proposal on a new track. The fact that we have brought together all the parties involved around one table, and that there were open and constructive discussions constitutes a major advance on the road to a more competitive Europe.'
For further information on the workshop, please consult the following web address:
http:///www.eu2005.lu/en/calendri er/2005/ 05/10reach/index.html