CBI steps up fight over EU chemicals law

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) announced recently that it is stepping up its fight to prevent a new EU law decimating Britain’s chemical industry.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) announced recently that it is stepping up its fight to prevent the EU Chemicals Strategy decimating Britain’s chemical industry.

The proposed EU Chemicals Strategy, known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) will require chemical manufacturers to conduct a safety assessment and to register the substances that they produce.

The CBI is seeking major changes to REACH as it believes it would force EU chemicals companies to bear the cost of testing in excess of 30,000 substances, which could lead to thousands of jobs being lost to the Far East.

The CBI claims that business is continuing to struggle with the cumulative cost of environmental legislation covering areas such climate change, pollution and water. This new testing programme could, according to the CBI, cost up to £6 billion and would impact on all companies that use chemicals, forcing some companies in the industry to close.

CBI Deputy Director-General, John Cridland, said: ‘A decade on from the Rio summit the environment is back on the legislators’ agenda with a vengeance. The right mix of carrot and stick can produce gains for both business and the environment but politicians must understand that these chemicals proposals fail the test of good regulation and must be redesigned.

‘An extra burden on this scale will drive jobs away to countries such as China which will not have to test even if the final products are imported into the EU. By pricing some chemicals out of the market these new rules threaten the research and innovation on which the future of our world class chemicals industry depends.’

The CBI is writing to Secretary of State, Margaret Beckett urging her to ensure the extent and cost of the extra work imposed by the new regulation is dramatically scaled back.

‘I passionately believe that this proposed regulation is disproportionate and not fully thought through. It is very likely to slash the number of raw materials that we can legally use with a predictable reduction in our ability to innovate,’ said Stephen Falder, Marketing Director of specialist paint manufacturer HMG Paints Ltd.

‘As a small independent company we are used to living on our wits. But I fear some companies similar to us could be crushed and lost under the weight of this huge potential regulatory burden.’