Following the outcome of the UK general election, the UK chemical industry has reiterated its willingness to stay aligned with the EU’s regulatory system. This is considered to be an essential point for ensuring frictionless access to the EU’s internal market post-Brexit. This position is echoed by UK NGOs, who have reiterated the importance of safeguarding ECHA membership.
The global chemicals giant BASF estimated that complying with requirements for a UK REACH replica will cost the company around 75 million euros. For certain substances, the cost of registration would be seven times higher than the profit it can generate per year. Due to the high costs for a relatively small market, BASF may decide not to register some substances in the UK. As other competitors are also taking into account this option, it might leave UK chemical users with a smaller palette of substances to choose from compared to their EU counterparts.
Former Prime Minister May’s intention was to seek associate membership of ECHA, but it is unclear if this will be prioritized under Johnson’s government. Although ECHA is still mentioned in Johnson’s revised Political Declaration, the subsequent sentence on aligning with Union rules was removed. Further, “level playing field” references on environmental standards have been deleted from the legally binding Withdrawal Agreement and moved into the Political Declaration.
Chemical Watch article on regulatory alignment
Chemical Watch article on BASF