Within the Political Declaration, the EU and UK commit to “explore the possibility of cooperation” of the UK with three agencies, including the European Chemicals Agency ECHA, the EU’s regulatory body implementing the EU legislation on chemicals safety REACH. If the outcome of this is not entirely clear yet, one likely scenario would be to enable the UK to participate as an observer in ECHA’s proceedings. This would give access to the world’s largest chemical safety data base, but in return would require the UK to contribute finance and expertise, and to dynamically align with REACH legislation. Further, the UK would not be able to participate in decision-making processes and would be required to abide by the European Court of Justice’s rulings on this matter. In addition, the UK would have to transpose EU laws from other chemical related fields (e.g. industrial emissions, waste, water).
Prime-minister May has already expressed the UK’s willingness to remain part of ECHA, but this was received with reluctance by the EU on the grounds of cherry-picking. These new developments have been welcomed by environmental and industry associations.