Environment Minister deplores Commission's decision to delay action on chemicals

Environment Minister deplores Commission's decision to delay action on chemicals
Zakia Khattabi of Ecolo. © Belga

The European Commission published its work programme for 2024 on Tuesday and, to the dismay of Belgium's Environment Minister, it does not include the revision of the EU's regulations on chemicals.

Speaking from a World Health Summit in Berlin, Ecolo's Zakia Khattabi on Tuesday deplored “the European Commission’s decision not to revise" its Regulation on the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). She noted that there was no mention of the REACH's revision in the work programme.

Repeatedly postponed, the revision has been the subject of an intense industry lobby.

“The European Commission made a commitment in 2021, as part of its European Strategy for the Sustainability of Chemicals, to review this regulation during its legislature by the fourth quarter of 2023 at the latest,” the Minister recalled.

“It’s been almost 20 years since this regulation has been revised! Since then, new dangerous chemical substances have appeared. This is particularly the case for certain polymers and for endocrine disruptors such as PFASs, for which there are currently no regulations,” she said in a press release.

“While it is generally accepted by politicians and institutions that we should do everything we can to protect our environment and people’s health, I deplore the fact that action is not being taken,” she added.

Questioned at the plenary session of the European Parliament, the Commission's Vice-President in charge of the Green Pact, Maros Sefcovic, did not deny on Tuesday that REACH would be postponed until the next term.

He stressed the complexity of the revision and the need to strike a balance between the damage chemicals cause to health and the environment, and the availability of essential chemical substances for batteries, chips, etc., to preserve the competitiveness of European companies.

The revision will still take “several years” to be finalised, he acknowledged.

Copyright © 2024 The Brussels Times. All Rights Reserved.