Norwegian minister argues for a stronger REACH directive

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The new Government in Norway has stated that it wishes to take active role in the finishing stage of the seven year long process of deciding on the new European new chemical legislation, called REACH. As a first step, the new Norwegian Minster of the Environment, Bjørnøy sent a letter to several MEPs urging both the European Parliament and the Council to adapt a version of REACH that ensures a strengthened regime for chemical legislation.

In the letter, Bjørnøy states that the new Government in Norway will strive to ensure a toxin-free environment, and reminded European decision makers that REACH should be adopted in a manner that makes it a key instrument toward protecting human health and the environment from chemical risks.

Decision by the end of 2005
The REACH bill was scheduled to be voted on at the Competitiveness Council on November 28th and 29th. However, Germany asked for a postponement to give its incoming government, led by new Chancellor Angela Merkel, time to examine the dossier. The UK Presidency has accepted Germany’s request to postpone a vote, still hopes to clinch a deal before its six-month rotating presidency of the EU finishes at the end of the year. Commissioner for the Environment, Stavros Dimas has stated that the Commission supports the UK Presidency in trying to find a compromise in Council before the end 2005. In the mean time, the Parliament will vote on REACH on the 17th of November.

Bellona believes that there is a need for a harmonised chemical legislation that that meets its key objective: ensuring a high level of protection for human health and the environment.

Gunnar Grini