Reach gets underway, as the new European Chemicals Agency starts operations in Helsinki

The European chemicals legislation, Reach (Registration, evaluation, authorisation and restrictions of chemicals) enters into force today, as the new European chemicals agency starts operations in Helsinki. 

The agency, which is responsible for managing the system, has launched a website providing relevant information, including guidance documents, helpdesks and other tools (see link below). It will become fully operational on 1 June 2008, when companies begin on-line submission of pre-registrations and registration dossiers. ’The chemicals agency will play a key role in the effective implementation of Reach, helping to deliver improved health and environmental conditions while at the same time maintaining competitiveness and encouraging innovation,’ said Commission vice president Günter Verheugen, who is responsible for enterprise and industry. 

Reach was adopted last December after more than three years discussion. About 30 000 chemical substances in use today will need to be registered over the next 11 years. One of the Agency’s first tasks is to make sufficient information available to companies - especially small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) - on how to comply with the new requirements. From 1 June 2008 it will also provide an interface for on-line registration of substances. The European Commission estimates that testing over the next 11 years will cost about €10 billion overall, but maintains that this is a small price to pay in terms of health costs saved - estimated at about €97 billion. 

Bea Perks