A tale of two chemical regulations

17 August 2020

Concerns are raised about how UK chemical regulation might impact business with the EU after Brexit.

The UK Government’s Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA) has stated  that the UK is not seeking associate membership of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and will no longer participate in REACH, the European Union’s chemicals regulation.

Around 60% of the UK’s chemical exports go to the EU. Companies exporting to the UK and EU will have to register products under two separate regulatory regimes, with the UK having to establish its own chemicals database.

Concerns have been raised that without access to the ECHA database, the UK will have to rely on more limited information. In addition the UK database will have no information for two years until companies have delivered the UK’s required safety data on their chemicals. The lack of data will make it hard for the UK to implement restrictions and authorisations on chemicals and to defend them from court challenges, say chemical industry bodies. There is also concern that should the UK regulatory regime diverge from the EU; the UK could become a ‘dumping ground’ for hazardous chemicals.

UK industry body the Confederation of British Industry (CBI) has said that the chemicals sector is among those with the least to gain deviating from EU norms, as the sector is so tightly regulated and the UK so dependent on the EU as a market.

For more on this visit C&I.

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