EU Chemicals Law: Should Violations Be Penalized Equally Across the EU?

Violations of EU chemicals law are sanctioned differently in each EU state. Manufacturers outside the EU can take advantage of such loopholes. Possible solutions were discussed in Brussels in mid-November by representatives of the ECHA, associations, member states, and non-governmental organizations. The EU Commission has provided a Webcast of the meeting. 

Manufacturers who want to import illegal chemicals from outside the EU specifically choose countries with the mildest penalties, says Erwin Annys, REACH director at the European Chemical Industry Council (CEFIC).

Such manufacturers do not hesitate to use fraudulent methods, such as counterfeit certificates and analyses, says Tasoula Kyprianidou-Leontidou of the Ministry of Labor in Cyprus. In her opinion, only one solution is possible to avoid the problem – uniform sanctions in individual member states.

Tatiana Santos of the European Environmental Bureau offers a similar argument: Different sanctions are unfair and skew competitive conditions.

Johan Nouwen of the ECHA disagrees. The preconditions in each country differ, he says. It would be almost impossible to implement an approach so “that in a poor country the penalty would be the same as in a rich country.” Other speakers agreed with him, including Roberto Scazzola of AISE, the international soap and detergents trade body. “We are front runners globally; we have the most ambitious set of regulations
worldwide. This comes with a price and the price is complexity,” he says.

Tatiana Santos asked if it would not be possible to pillory the non-compliant manufacturers and publish their names as a deterrent. Erwin Annys does not think that such an approach can be implemented because industry rejects such practice.

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