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Elizabeth Shepherd gives evidence to the Environmental Audit Committee on the post-Brexit future of UK chemicals regulation

  • United Kingdom
  • Environment
  • Diversified industrials - Chemicals

27-02-2017

Environmental Audit Committee’s (“EAC”) inquiry into the future of Chemicals Regulation after the EU Referendum held its first oral evidence session 7 February 2017. On Brexit the Government has explained it intends to convert EU law into British Law through the “Great Repeal Bill”. The inquiry focuses on the REACH regulation, which is expected to be particularly difficult to transpose into UK legislation. The inquiry is considering the possible impacts of this difficulty on environmental protection, public safety and the UK chemicals industry. (See previous article regarding the EAC’s inquiry here).

Eversheds Sutherland partner Elizabeth Shepherd was on the panel providing oral evidence to the Committee. The panel considered questions including the potential models of chemical regulation, practical implications for business, risks to trade and transitional measures.

Elizabeth explained how the chemicals industry has embraced REACH as a robust system of chemicals regulation. She also explained that REACH is only one part of chemicals regulation. There is also legislation on biocides, ozone depleting substances, persistent organic pollutants, substances requiring prior informed consent, and the classification and labelling of products. EU chemicals legislation also implements a number of international conventions.

Elizabeth discussed the difficulties that businesses would face if a UK form of REACH diverged from that in the EU. REACH creates a common system making it easier for UK exporters to ensure regulatory compliance in order to trade with European countries. A divergent system would result in additional administration costs for UK exporters.

Elizabeth emphasised the importance of creating transitional provisions to allow UK businesses to access the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), existing registrations, and a continued process for registration, from the end of the two-year Article 50 period. Without these provisions, there would be a market freeze because it is unlikely that a detailed trade agreement will be completed by then.

The inquiry is still open and is accepting written submissions. They should be made here.

The write up of the session can be found here.

A full recording of the evidence session can be found here.

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