The incompatible chemistry between the EU and the US – BEUC position on chemicals in TTIP

BEUC NEWS - 22.01.2016

BEUC, The European Consumer Organisation, wants a future where consumer products no longer contain any dangerous substances.

However, protecting consumers may become more difficult if rules to give the US government and business greater access to weigh in on the EU’s regulatory decisions on chemicals standards are included in the Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP). BEUC is highlighting these problems in a new position paper on Chemicals in TTIP.

The EU has put in place the world’s most ambitious system to regulate chemicals risks and limit our exposure to dangerous substances (REACH). TTIP could potentially weaken this protective safety net.

REACH is based on the ‘precautionary principle’, where producers have to prove that substances are safe before they are placed on the market. REACH requires better information on chemical safety and that, in the absence of such information, chemicals are restricted or prohibited outright. In essence, REACH functions according to a ‘no data, no market’-principle.

In the US, the regulator must prove that a chemical presents an ‘unreasonable’ risk to health and the environment. In the absence of substantial evidence, unsafe chemicals can remain on the market. In contrast to REACH, this is a ‘no data, no problem’-principle.

These two systems can not be aligned unless the principles underlying one or the other are radically changed.

We see a real risk that current TTIP proposals would delay – or, worse still, thwart – progress to make consumer products safer.

BEUC therefore wants chemicals to be excluded from TTIP’s regulatory cooperation chapters.

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