Cefic Leader Concerned REACH Stifles Innovation

02.10.2012 -

Concerns are mounting that REACH legislation leads to EU chemicals companies to forgo research and innovation to stay compliant, said then-Cefic President Giorgio Squinzi during his recent visit to EU chemicals regulators in Helsinki, Finland shortly before his 2-year term ended September 28.

Squinzi spoke at an event held at European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) headquarters to discuss REACH and its importance on competition and innovation. His speech before ECHA and Cefic officials as well as EU Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani, highlighted the European Commission's survey on the impact of REACH on innovation. The survey finds that 63% of respondents indicated that REACH could lead to the diversion of resources from truly innovative research.

Squinzi noted: "The data points to something that our industry cannot afford. And while REACH increases interactions at the interfaces of industries, this occurs in the context of data sharing through vehicles such as Safety Data Sheets. It remains to be seen whether this type of activity really drives concepts such as open innovation."

Competitiveness and REACH
On the competitiveness side of REACH, Squinzi stressed the impact of the costs associated with REACH, citing a European Commission study that indicates REACH has cost over €2 billion to date. Squinzi added: "This figure is the initial cost range for the whole of REACH, yet we have only passed through the first registration deadline. It makes clear that costs are high. Furthermore, as smaller organisations enter the REACH processes, we must find ways to eliminate all unnecessary costs.

"This can range from highlighting the big cost items and amending the legislation to simplify the procedures at the implementation phase. Here, we look to ECHA to review any activities which we are not explicitly required by the legal text."

Competitiveness, REACH and confidential business information
Squinzi also touched on competitiveness and confidential business information, calling for transparency while at the same time protecting intellectual property. He noted that appropriate dissemination should occur as long as it does not provide competitors outside Europe with "an easy way in". He also praised event organisers for including the concerns of SMEs into the discussion, which make up the vast majority of the European chemicals sector's 29,000 firms.

Strictly Controlled Conditions and SMEs

He also touched on Strictly Controlled Conditions (SCC), saying that he was "pleased"with the progress that the Agency has made on flexibility in the interpretation of SCC. He added that it is important that this is acted upon in a consistent way by enforcement authorities. He commented: "Many of our smaller companies provide an invaluable role in producing intermediates for use in highly valuable end products. They are acting in a very responsible way, but feel threatened by the narrow interpretation of Strictly Controlled Conditions which can lead to significant additional costs." "We request that the Agency build on the recent progress in this area, and formally amends the Guidance to reflect the current best practice as soon as possible after the June 2013 registration deadline has passed."

Working with European Federations, Policymakers, Regulators

Squinzi, who finishes his two-year term as Cefic president at the end of the month, sees a strengthened cooperation between industry, EU Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani, and EU Environment Commissioner Janez Potonik. He concluded: "The close collaboration between industry, the European Commission, and ECHA resulted in the successful completion of the first regulation phase for REACH."