The EU should tap full potential of chemical law to better protect consumers

BEUC NEWS - 31.01.2017

The EU can do more to protect consumers against dangerous chemicals. That is the main message BEUC has sent last week to the European Commission who consulted the public on the EU’s primary chemicals law REACH.


While REACH does make the use of chemicals safer in Europe there is a major fly in the ointment. Indeed, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the EU Commission and the Member States should do more to apply the law to full effect.

REACH is key to prevent and reduce chemical risks in Europe and globally. Its roll-out shapes the capacity of other EU laws, for example on cosmetics or toys, to protect consumers from harmful chemicals.

To better protect consumers’ health, ECHA, the Commission and Member States should:

  • Enforce the “no data, no market” principle: ECHA has again and again shown that too many companies do not submit the required data on their chemicals. ECHA needs a clear mandate to take chemicals off the market when companies fail to produce the necessary data.
  • Strengthen the consumers’ right to know: Thanks to REACH retailers and manufacturers have to respond to consumer requests about the presence of chemicals of special concern in their products. But our research shows that consumers unacceptably struggle to access information and that companies are often unaware of their obligations. Industry needs to provide consumers with more and reliable information upon request.
  • Step up efforts to regulate hormone-disrupting chemicals: the EU urgently needs to apply REACH to identify and phase out these toxic chemicals found in consumer products.

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