chapter  Chapter 9
34 Pages

Reach: An Unprecedented Science-Based European Initiative for Regulating Industrial Chemicals

WithSamuel S. Epstein

The Precautionary Principle was first invoked by the German government at the 1994 Second North Sea Conference, in relation to marine dumping of toxic wastes. In 1997, the Swedish Chemicals Policy Committee published a revolutionary document entitled “Towards a Sustainable Chemicals Policy,” which embraced the fullest implementation of the Precautionary Principle ever proposed. In a February 2001 “White Paper: Strategy for a Future Chemicals Policy”, the European Commission recommended that regulations known as registration, evaluation, authorization of chemicals (REACH) be administered by a European Chemicals Bureau. The regulations were intended to replace some 40 existing directives on the manufacture and import of industrial chemicals in the originally 15 countries of the European Union, currently an amalgam of the highly diverse 25 nations of the “new European Union.” REACH recommended that the European Union adopt an unprecedented complex of regulations for industrial chemicals. These were designed to “make a major contribution to achieve safe use of chemicals at a global level.”