Experiences from the past - with e.g. active pharmaceutical ingredients and restrictions of marketing and use - show that the “best possible legislation” does not help at all, if the legislation is not enforced as it should be. The fact that European legislation has to be enforced by the individual Member States explains why harmonisation all over Europe is not easy.
Enforcing REACH across 27 EU Member States is no simple task. To help streamline the process, the EU has established a “Forum for Exchange of Information on Enforcement” on REACH, representing the enforcement authorities of the 27 Member States.
Cefic calls for uniform, consistent, transparent and equal enforcement of REACH for the EU-based manufacturing and use of substances, mixtures and articles and for the import of substances, mixtures and articles. Sanctions should distinguish between deliberate and accidental breach of the regulation.
Harmonisation of enforcement is only one part of the problem facing industry, the harmonisation of penalties at national level being another. A study done at the Commission’s request shows that there are huge differences in penalties : from €5,000 to unlimited penalties. The road to harmonising this will be a long one. Cefic ensures a level playing field all over Europe, working with its member federations and keeping this item on the ECHA Forum’s agenda.
REACH is the most complex legislation companies and authorities are confronted with worldwide. This is learning by doing - a reality that enforcement authorities should take into consideration. One cannot expect everything to be perfect from the very first day.
Cefic’s contribution to the debate taking place in the ECHA Forum is twofold:
- Cefic insists that authorities distinguish between deliberately and accidentally setting out to contravene REACH.
- Cefic is firm on Member States foreseeing a mechanism that ensures decisions taken in these meetings do indeed end up in information given to local inspectors, as it is indeed difficult for companies to follow all guidance documents on this legislation, as well as decisions taken at CARACAL (Competent Authorities for REACH and CLP [Classification & Labelling Regulation]) and ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) Committees.