CBA survey confirms industry’s concerns about UK reach post-Brexit

A survey of the UK’s chemical supply chain by the Chemical Business Association (CBA) reveals that three-quarters of companies do not own the testing data for registrations they currently hold under the European Union’s REACH legislation (EU REACH).

This fact confirms the industry’s worst fears and creates a major impediment to the Government’s plans to transpose EU REACH into UK law following Brexit.

The online survey, conducted between 6-15 February 2019, covered 38 key companies in the UK chemical supply chain that currently hold 351 registrations under EU REACH.

CBA has repeatedly told Ministers, Select Committees, and officials that UK companies do not own or have access to the testing data necessary support the registration of substances under UK REACH.

They pay a fee to its owner for Letters of Access enabling the company to rely on the data set held by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).

CBA Chief Executive, Peter Newport, said, “It is not a simple proposition, as the Government assumes, for UK companies to access this testing data.  It is a commercial decision for its owners – generally consortia of European companies – not by ECHA or by UK business.”

“This fact renders the Government’s current proposals unworkable, it represents a potentially massive hike in the industry’s compliance costs, it weakens its competitiveness, as well as raising the issue of additional animal testing,” he added.

Over half (59%) of the member companies replying to the survey held registrations in the 1 – 10 annual tonnage band indicating they specialise in distributing low volume, high value, chemical substances critical to UK manufacturing businesses.

Some 29% of respondents are currently in discussions with the data owner for its use for UK REACH, but only 8% of respondents have agreed a fee for this purpose.  The survey also shows that for over 30% of substances the fee demanded by the data holder will exceed the administrative costs of supplying it.

The 38 companies replying to the survey plan to notify 326 registrations under UK REACH and have indicated they are considering notifying a further 1266 registrations as an importer from the EU27 countries.

Peter Newport said, “This survey highlights the need for the UK Government to revisit its plans for UK REACH which involve a number of intractable issues concerning access to testing data, a double-whammy on compliance costs, increased animal testing, and misgivings about its long-term sustainability.”

“If a No Deal Brexit takes place on 29 March, all EU REACH registrations held by UK companies become invalid. Yet the industry requires continued frictionless access to the EU market, the destination for 60% of the UK’s chemical exports. The only way for this to be achieved is through an ‘Associate Membership’ of ECHA or some arrangement guaranteeing regulatory compliance with the EU regime and allowing continued access to European markets – even in the case of a No Deal Brexit,” he added.

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