Thursday, October 6, 2011

ECHA Issues 2012 Work Program - Sees Challenges Ahead

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) approved its 2012 work program last week and highlighted both its activities and its challenges ahead of the next REACH deadline.  Besides the mid 2013 REACH registration deadline, ECHA will take on an expanding role in the new Biocidal Products Regulation (which will replace the current Directive in 2013). In addition, ECHA will have ramped up activities related to other parts of the expansive REACH regulation, including the Evaluation (the "E") and Authorization (the "A") components, as well as Restrictions (the "missing R").  And of course there is still the continuing evaluation of substance dossiers for high productive volume chemicals submitted in the first registration period that ended on November 30, 2010.

All of this leaves ECHA worried that there may not be enough resources to meet obligations efficiently, both within ECHA and in the Member States.  The current economic situation in most of Europe, which has caused such severe spending cuts (austerity), has led ECHA Executive Director Geert Dancet to openly state his concerns that Member States may not have enough resources to fully conduct their role in chemical evaluation.

The developing Biocidal Products Regulation (BPR) also offers challenges to ECHA as the agency is expected to take on responsibility for authorizing biocides.  Under the current biocides directive this responsibility lies with each Member State.  ECHA would also take on new responsibilities related to the Prior Informed Consent Regulation, which involves identifying hazardous chemicals that could not be exported from Europe unless the country of destination is given sufficient information to assess risk.

During the September 29-30, 2011 meeting of the management board, the mandate of the Executive Director was extended.  According to the chairman, Dr. Thomas Jakl:
"After the first REACH registration deadline was impressively managed by ECHA in 2010, there is no time to rest on our laurels. Challenging further steps of the REACH and CLP implementation lie ahead and the legislator is in the process of entrusting important new regulatory tasks to the Agency. The continuation decision with regard to a selection process for the Executive Director reflects the high satisfaction of the Board with his achievements since 2007."

More information and a link to the work program can be found on the ECHA web site.

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