EU States Give Formal Backing to New Chemicals Law
BRUSSELS European Union governments gave their formal backing on Monday to a new law to reform the chemicals sector after EU lawmakers passed a compromise deal on the rules last week.
Known as REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals), the bill requires companies to prove substances in everyday products from cars to clothes to computers are safe.
EU environment ministers meeting in Brussels on Monday gave the new law unanimous backing, a spokeswoman for the European Commission said. It is now set to enter force in June 2007.
The European Parliament voted overwhelmingly in favour of a compromise last week that will force industry to substitute especially dangerous chemicals with safer ones when alternatives are available. It allows most substances requiring authorisation to be approved if they can be adequately controlled.
REACH requires the properties of roughly 30,000 chemicals produced or imported in the EU to be registered with a Helsinki-based agency. Those of highest concern, such as carcinogens, would require testing and authorisation, a process that could lead to outright bans.
The law's detractors include the United States on trade grounds, African nations anxious about exports to the EU, animal rights groups, who forecast a huge increase in tests on animals, and the metals sector, alarmed at the cost.