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March 17, 2003
Volume 81, Number 11
CENEAR 81 11 p. 10
ISSN 0009-2347


EUROPE

POLICY DISPUTE
Chemical industry, labor leaders wrangle with EC over proposal

WILLIAM STORCK

The European Chemical Industry and its workers came together at a press conference in Brussels last week to agree on the need for a coherent European chemicals policy—and to express reservations about the policy being developed by the European Commission.

Their concern with the EC proposal, industry leaders say, is a call to test some 30,000 chemicals. That would cost the European industry as much as $7 billion, making it less competitive globally.

Eggert Voscherau, president of the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC) and a BASF board member, said: “For the chemical industry in Europe, one of the factors most relevant to its competitiveness is the regulatory environment. We need better regulation, not a regulation overkill which fails to meet the political objectives and which stifles innovation.”

Reinhard Reibsch, secretary general of the European Mine, Chemical & Energy Workers’ Federation, agreed that overregulation by the European Union could affect competitive and employment conditions. “This would then create the threat of eroding growth and employment losses, while having counterproductive effects on society and the environment,” he said.

Voscherau also noted that EU chemical legislation is already the most stringent in the world. “The new chemicals policy, if wrongly implemented,” he said, “will further increase regulatory compliance costs and bureaucracy.”

Erkki Liikanen, an EU commissioner, said that the chemicals policy will not be ready for review until summer. But, he noted, “in the work carried out so far, our aim has been to devise mechanisms and procedures that will deliver a system which is cost-effective and least burdensome to enterprises without calling into question the achievement of its fundamental health and environmental aims.”

BURDENSOME Labor and chemical industry leaders tell EU they lose competitiveness with “regulation overkill.”
CEFIC PHOTO



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