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IP/08/1844

Brussels, 1st December 2008

EU Member States approve world-wide rules for labelling of chemicals

The European Commission welcomes the agreement by the EU Member States to align EU legislation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures to the United Nations Globally Harmonised System (GHS). This new system will ensure that the same hazards will be described and labelled in the same way all around the world. By using internationally agreed classification criteria and labelling elements, it is expected to facilitate trade and to contribute towards global efforts to protect humans and the environment from hazardous effects of chemicals. The new regulation will complement the REACH regulation on the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. The European Parliament already the 3rd of September this year approved the GHS regulation. The next step will be its publication in the Official Journal, thereby making the EU one of the international leaders in the actual uptake of the UN system.

Commission Vice President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry, said: “In a global world, we need global rules. This agreement helps to remove trade barriers and enterprises will save costs. This kind of regulation at UN level will be a great help to European industry.”

Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas, responsible for environment, said: "The use of the same pictograms and phrases to describe the same hazards throughout the world will benefit the protection of workers, consumers and the environment.”

Chemicals are manufactured and traded globally and their hazards are the same around the world. Therefore the description of hazards should not differ between countries if the product is the same. Enterprises will save costs if they do not have to assess hazard information for their chemicals against different sets of criteria.

The regulation will require companies to classify, label and package appropriately their hazardous chemicals before placing them on the market. It aims to protect workers, consumers and the environment by means of labelling which reflects possible hazardous effects of the chemical, while also taking over from REACH notification of classifications to the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki.

The regulation will after a transitional period replace the current rules on classification, labelling and packaging of substances (Directive 67/548/EEC) and mixtures (Directive 1999/45/EC). After entry into force, the deadline for substance classification according to the new rules will be 1 December 2010 and for mixtures 1 June 2015.

More information about the new rules can be found under:

http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/reach/index_en.htm

http://ec.europa.eu/environment/chemicals/ghs/index_en.htm


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