Enterprise Commissioner Erkki Liikanen and Environment Commissioner Margot Wallstrom presented the new proposals to the full 20 member Commission. Their approach to modernization of the EU's chemicals legislation was approved for an eight weeks Internet consultation, but critics say that cloaked in the disguise of public consultation, the Commission is really delaying for a crucial period.
The Commission said in a statement today that, "The Internet consultation will enable interested parties to comment on the detail of the future legal requirements before the proposal is finalized by the Commission." Public comments through other means of communication are also welcome.
Commissioner Liikanen said, "This major piece of legislation is a great challenge in terms of reconciling the economic, social and environmental requirements inherent in the EU's sustainable development strategy. I believe that what we have presented today is a good basis for getting the balance right, but we are of course open to further input and comments from all stakeholders."
A coalition of major European environmental NGOs including the European Environmental Bureau, Greenpeace International, Friends of the Earth, BUND (Friends of the Earth Germany), and WWF, the conservation organization, today said the Internet consultation, originally meant to last for five weeks was, extended three weeks to please the chemical industry.
"While minor on the surface," the groups said, "these three extra weeks will ensure that the Commission cannot publish its proposal before summer. In consequence the European Parliament will not be able to hold a first reading by the 2004 elections."
Under discussion since February 2001 when the Commission
first proposed changing the law governing the more than 30,000
chemicals produced, imported or used in Europe, the draft legislation
has at its core REACH: a single, integrated system for the Registration,
Evaluation, and Authorisation of CHemicals.