Chemicals: EU Law

Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs written question – answered on 12th June 2020.

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Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the amount of chemical safety information the UK will lose access to when it can no longer access the REACH database after the end of the transition period.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the financial effect on UK businesses of (a) replicating chemical safety dossiers that exist in the REACH database and (b) being required to register with two systems.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what estimate his Department has made of the number of chemicals that will require lower levels of safety information in a UK only chemical regulation system.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, what comparative assessment his Department has made of the number of chemicals that will need to be regulated in (a) a UK only market and (b) the EU REACH regulations.

Photo of Matthew Offord Matthew Offord Conservative, Hendon

To ask the Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs, if he will publish the impact assessment on seeking associate membership of the European Chemicals Agency.

Photo of Rebecca Pow Rebecca Pow The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

The preparations we made for the possibility of a no deal exit mean that we are well placed to be ready with our own independent regulatory regime for 1 January 2021. At the end of the Transition Period the UK will have its own independent chemicals regulatory framework, UK REACH. We will bring REACH in to UK law and put in place the systems and capacity to ensure the effective management and control of chemicals which safeguard human health and the environment and can respond to emerging risks.

UK REACH will retain the principles and fundamental approach of the EU REACH system, with its aims of ensuring a high level of protection of human health and the environment, as well as enhancing innovation and competitiveness. UK REACH maintains the core principle of EU REACH of “no data no market” to provide assurance that businesses understand the risks of chemicals they are using, and how to manage those risks, and to give UK regulators the information they need to manage risks to the environment and to UK consumers.

We will aim to keep the transition to UK REACH as simple and straightforward as possible. We are considering a range of measures to minimise the burdens and costs for businesses.

This includes the grace period provisions we have out in place to enable industry to comply with UK REACH through a phased transitional period. Defra's estimates of the costs to industry broadly align with those identified by industry, and we continue to explore a range of further steps to minimise the burdens on businesses. As part of that process we have been undertaking a focused evidence-gathering exercise to better understand costs and practical options to reduce burdens on industry. This has involved a number of key stakeholders including businesses of different sizes across the supply chain, trade associations and NGOs.

We are also looking to reduce the cost to business, through the ongoing negotiations between the UK and the EU for a Free Trade Agreement. In February, the Government published our approach to negotiating our future relationship with the EU. That includes a proposal for a chemicals annex as part of the EU Free Trade Agreement, to facilitate trade and encourage high levels of protection for the environment and human health. To support businesses to meet the separate regulatory requirements of the UK and EU markets, we aim to agree data and information sharing mechanisms with the EU, in line with the relevant provisions set out in UK and EU regulation and existing third-country mechanisms. On 19 May the Government published its draft Comprehensive Free Trade Agreement (CFTA) with the EU text. Negotiations are ongoing and progress will be kept under review.

The Government published “EU Exit: Long-term economic impacts” in November 2018. This paper provides estimates of the economic impact of a range of future trading relationships with the EU. Our commitment to having control of our own laws and on not remaining within the jurisdiction of the European Courts of Justice (ECJ), means that we are not seeking associate membership of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and participation in EU REACH.

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