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What will happen to chemicals regulation after UK withdrawal from EU?

The Environmental Audit Committee has launched an enquiry into the future of environmental law and policy following the UK's vote to leave the EU, which will focus on the future of the European Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH).

It will consider the possible impacts on environmental protection, public safety and the UK chemicals industry and submissions must be received by 18:00 on 20th January.

The EU has adopted several pieces of legislation on chemicals, which are primarily 'trade regulations' harmonising the conditions under which chemicals can be placed on the market, with the aim of protecting human health and the environment. REACH shifts the responsibility from public authorities to industry with regard to assessing and managing the risks posed by chemicals and providing appropriate safety information for their users. Constantly evolving, REACH has been amended 38 times since it was enacted in 2006. It is enforced by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and relatively little of its regulation has been transposed into UK law.

The Prime Minister has said that leaving the EU will involve converting the body of EU law into British law (via a 'Great Repeal Bill'). However, the Government has said that up to a third of EU environmental law cannot be simply 'copy pasted' into UK law and will require additional work to ensure that the UK maintains the current level of environmental protection. REACH was cited in the evidence to the Future of the Natural Environment enquiry as one of these challenging areas.

This latest enquiry will examine the future of chemicals regulation in the UK after the Referendum result, with a particular focus on the possible impacts on environmental protection, public safety and the UK chemicals industry.

The Committee invites submissions on some or all of the questions below:

Transposition -

* What particular challenges will the UK Government face when it seeks to transpose REACH into UK law through the 'Great Repeal Bill'?

* How far will the UK's ability to effectively transpose REACH depend on negotiations with other Member States and the nature of the UK's future relationship with the EU (e.g. Single Market membership)?

* What role should the devolved administrations play in setting the regulatory environment in this area? How should any divergences in policy be managed?

Administrative, Policy and Regulatory Implications -

* How should administrative and enforcement responsibilities, which are currently being carried out by the European Commission or EU Agencies (such as ECHA), be transferred to domestic bodies?

* What are the likely implications for industry in terms of regulation, environmental and safety standards?

* Does the UK Government have the requisite expertise and resources to take on these tasks?

Future of Chemical Industry -

* What scope is there for the UK to pursue a divergent approach to chemicals regulation from the EU once the process of leaving has been completed?

* What principles should a UK chemicals regulation regime follow?

* What are the likely practical implications of having a UK-only chemicals regulatory policy for: (1) The Environment? (2) Public Safety? (3) UK Industry

* What key features should any new regime have to ensure these are not compromised?

The Environmental Audit Committee is keen to inform the Government's thinking on this issue as soon as possible. For this reason, it is asking for submissions by 18:00 on Friday 20th January, 2017. The word limit is 3,000 words. Later submissions will be accepted, but may be too late to inform the first oral evidence hearing.

The Committee values diversity and seeks to ensure this where possible. It us encouraging members of underrepresented groups to submit written evidence and aims to have diverse panels of Select Committee witnesses and asks organisations to bear this in mind if asked to appear.

The form to be used for submissions is at:


12th January 2017

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