Brussels, 13 December 2005
Extraordinary Council meeting
President Lord Sainsbury of Turville,
Chemicals legislation: the REACH system 6
OTHER ITEMS APPROVED
The Governments of the Member States and the European Commission were represented as follows:
Mr Benoit CEREXHE Minister of the Brussels Capital Regional Government, with responsibility for Employment, Economic Affairs, Scientific Research, Fire Prevention and Emergency Medical Aid
Mr Martin JAHN Deputy Prime Minister for Economic Affairs
Ms Connie HEDEGAARD Minister for the Environment and for Nordic Cooperation
Mr Sigmar GABRIEL Federal Minister for the Environment, Nature Conservation and Reactor Safety
Mr Tiit NABER Deputy Permanent Representative
Mr Spyros PAPADOPOULOS General Secretary for Industry, Ministry of Development
Mr José MONTILLA AGUILERA Minister for Industry, Tourism and Trade
Mr François LOOS Minister with responsibility for Industry
Mr Tony KILLEEN Minister of State at the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment (with special responsibility for Labour Affairs including Training)
Mr Alessandro PIGNATTI Deputy Permanent Representative
Mr Panicos KYRIACOU Deputy Permanent Representative
Mr Raimonds VĒJONIS Minister for the Environment
Mr Romas ŠVEDAS Deputy Permanent Representative
Mr Georges FRIDEN Deputy Permanent Representative
Mr Egon DIENES-OEHM Deputy Permanent Representative
Mr Censu GALEA Minister for Competitiveness and Communications
Ms Karien van GENNIP Minister for Foreign Trade
Mr Walter GRAHAMMER Deputy Permanent Representative
Mr Piotr Grzegorz WOŹNIAK Minister for Economic Affairs
Mr Domingos FEZAS VITAL Deputy Permanent Representative
Ms Andrijana STARINA KOSEM State Secretary at the Ministry of the Economy
Mr Juraj NOCIAR Deputy Permanent Representative
Ms Nina VASKUNLAHTI Deputy Permanent Representative
Ms Lena SOMMESTAD Minister for the Environment
Lord SAINSBURY of TURVILLE Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Science and Innovation
Lord BACH of LUTTERWORTH Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State and Minister for Sustainable Farming and Food
Mr Günter VERHEUGEN Vice-President
Mr Stavros DIMAS Member
The Governments of the Acceding States were represented as follows:
Mr Roussi IVANOV Deputy Permanent Representative
Mr Zsolt BOGOS State Secretary, Ministry of Economy and Commerce
The Council reached a political agreement on the draft regulation for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals (REACH), and establishing a European chemicals agency.
The Council held a policy debate, on the basis of a compromise text drafted by the United Kingdom Presidency (15155/05) and additional proposals presented by the Presidency directly to the Council, before unanimously agreeing on a draft text, setting out the contents of its common position.
The Council will formally adopt its common position at a later session once the legal text has been finalised. The common position will be forwarded to the European Parliament for a second reading under the codecision procedure.
The main issues of the debate were "authorisation" and "substitution".
While some delegations stressed the importance of providing for strong incentives or even requirements to substitute dangerous substances, other delegations were worried by the impact on industry if excessive conditions for authorisation were to be adopted. The agreement by the Council strikes a balance between these different views. The proposal as agreed provides that authorisations should not be granted on the grounds of adequate control in the case of substances that are persistent, bioaccumulative and toxic (PBT) or very persistent, very bioaccumulative (vPvB). For substances where it is not possible to determine safe thresholds with current methods, the proposal provides for a review (via a "comitology" procedure) within 12 months after entry into force of the regulation based on work in the REACH implementation projects (RIPs). In addition, it was agreed that applications for authorisations should always include an analysis of possible alternatives by the registrant.
The Council examined other points relating to:
REACH goes back to the Commission's White Paper on a "Strategy for a future chemicals policy" (2001), which drew up a new approach to the EU's chemicals policy, addressing the following objectives:
The Commission adopted the REACH proposal in October 2003;
The European Parliament delivered its opinion at first reading on 17 November 2005.
The Council held several policy debates throughout the preparatory work on REACH in order to give guidance for the examination of the file. Most recently, the Environment Council on 17 October and the Competitiveness Council on 29 November held policy debates leading up to today's agreement.
OTHER ITEMS APPROVED