From: Associated Press
Published November 25, 2005 12:00 AM

EU Hopes To Reach Deal on Landmark Chemicals Bill Next Month

BRUSSELS, Belgium — The European Union hopes to reach agreement soon on a controversial bill designed to protect people from effects of chemicals used in products of everyday use, Britain said Thursday.


The European Parliament last week approved the landmark legislation on the issue but voted to water down its tough provisions amid fears they might lead to job losses.


The bill puts the burden of proof on businesses to show that around 30,000 commonly used industrial chemicals and substances they put on the market are safe. It requires chemical companies to register the properties of substances in a new central EU database. There are currently around 40 directives governing the sector. The new law would supersede them.


Because of fears over potential job losses, the Parliament substantially scaled back chemicals-testing requirements. Full safety tests would only be required on a fraction of the 30,000 substances originally targeted by the bill. A requirement for costly tests on the long-term toxicity of chemicals on the environment and their impact on DNA was dropped.


Offsetting the eased registration requirements, provisions were added that tighten controls and require authorization to use some of the most hazardous substances. Authorization for such substances will be limited to five years, according to the Parliament's proposals.


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Britain, which holds the EU presidency, said that the Parliament's proposals were fairly close to member states' ideas about the law. A British official said the authorization issue is a sticking point which will be resolved at a meeting of EU ministers Dec. 19.


Source: Associated Press


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