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Call for less stringent REACH chemicals law22nd of December 2011
European leaders are coming under pressure from the Czech and Slovak governments to reconsider what they consider to be the 'excessive' REACH safety regulations on the chemicals industry that they say hurt smaller businesses and undermine economic growth.
The REACH regulation is due for review in 2012, setting the stage for a lobbying offensive by industry groups that argue the rules hurt competitiveness, and consumer and health organisations that want stronger measures.
"We recognise the importance of protecting people, but on the other hand we also have to think about the competitiveness of our small and medium enterprises," said Dušan Jurík, competitiveness attaché in Slovakia's EU mission.
A Czech government official denied that Prague was trying to kill or water down the chemicals regulation.
"Just to make one thing clear, the government is not calling to abolish REACH altogether, or to stop the legislation altogether. Not at all. What we are saying is the demands that are being set for small- and medium-sized enterprises should be reviewed."
The European Chemical Industry Council reported earlier this year that emerging economies are overtaking both Europe and North America in chemicals production and that China and the rest of the Asia-Pacific region attracted more than three times the investment in the chemicals sector than Europe and North America in 2010.
Major changes to REACH are unlikely, because the forthcoming review is more likely to focus on enforcing the existing rules rather than major overhaul of the legislation, which took effect in 2007 after a years of battles between interest groups and lobbying from the industry.