The regulatory gap – the case of UK’s future chemical safety rules

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(09/01/2019) The UK government published its draft statutory instrument to establish a UK chemical safety law, copying and amending the EU’s REACH regulation. It puts in place arrangements for a two-year transition period, during which UK authorities will have no access to the world’s largest chemicals safety data base hold by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

The instrument provides that an existing registration under EU REACH “has effect on and after exit day as a UK registration” as long as the registration holds a connection with the UK. The companies, which hold this so-called “grandfathered” registrations will then have a period of two years to submit the full data package. According to the Government’s guidance note, the IT system is already being tested as to be ready for use on 29 March 2019. But companies warn about the difficulties and complexity of managing the data sharing given the complex supply chains. The EU needed ten years to master the challenges and to phase in the new system.

Further to this safety data gap, the instrument omits essential governance elements of the REACH regulation, including the independent expert committees, the board of appeal and transparency requirements, which are seen important tools against short-term interests.

The UK could become a dumping ground for products containing harmful chemicals that are banned in the EU, according to Greener UK.

Draft Statutory Instrument on REACH (EU Exit) Regulations 2019
UK Government guidance on REACH in a no-deal scenario
Greener UK, “Environmental concerns around no deal”

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