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EU's REACH Chemical Safety Review Faces Uncertainty Amid Political and Industry Pressure

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The long-anticipated revision of the European Union's REACH regulation on chemical safety is encountering delays and uncertainties, raising concerns among campaigners. With European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen's German background and Germany's strong ties to the chemical industry, there are fears that political considerations may influence the revision's outcome ahead of the EU elections in spring 2024.

The REACH regulation, established in 2006 to safeguard human health and the environment from toxic chemicals, was set for a revision aimed at promoting sustainable chemicals and simplifying regulations. However, critics worry that the end of von der Leyen's mandate and the approaching elections could lead to further postponements and a less ambitious proposal.

The complexity of the REACH regulation, which has not been revised in almost two decades, is a major factor contributing to the delay. Parallel efforts to revise the framework for chemical classification, labeling, and packaging (CLP) have also added to the complexity of the process.

Industry pressure is another challenge, with businesses expressing concerns about increased regulatory burdens amid the Ukraine crisis and rising energy prices. Some companies and environmental organizations support a faster regulatory review, emphasizing the need for clarity to inspire investments and phase out harmful chemicals from products.

Critics, however, worry that industry influence and political pressures may undermine the protection of human health and the environment. Despite these concerns, the European Commission reiterates its commitment to delivering a comprehensive REACH revision by the end of 2023.

As the debate over the REACH revision continues, its outcome remains uncertain, and stakeholders will closely watch how the European Union balances the interests of industry, the environment, and public health.


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