Brexit: chemical regulation report published by Committee

07 November 2018

The EU Energy and Environment Sub-Committee publishes its report on chemical regulations after Brexit.

Key findings

The report warns that the Government's preparations for regulating chemicals after Brexit are not progressing quickly enough, risking human and environmental health and with potentially severe consequences for the chemicals sector.

The Committee finds that UK-based chemical companies could be in danger of losing access to the EU market unless they transfer their registrations to a company or representative based in the EU, but this transfer may not be possible before the UK leaves the EU. The chemicals sector is the second biggest manufacturing industry in the UK, exporting £18 billion of products to the EU last year.  A delay to registration carries the risk of a trading hiatus as well as disruption to the many supply chains that rely on access to chemicals produced across the EU.

The Committee expresses concerns about the Government's alternative plan to create its own database of chemicals approved for use in the UK. In evidence given to the Committee the Minister responsible said they planned to simply 'copy and paste' information from the EU's database, which the Committee concludes is not credible and raises serious legal concerns.

The Committee is calling on the Government to:

  • urgently explain how its independent regulatory regime would work;
  • put forward a more credible plan for collecting information on chemicals;
  • identify which UK agency will take on the role of chemical regulation;
  • and enable UK chemical businesses, including SMEs, to take steps to maintain their access to the EU market ahead of exit day.

Chair's comments

Lord Teverson, Chairman of the Sub-Committee said:

"Chemical regulation might seem like a niche area of Brexit considerations, but chemicals are used to make products that we all use every day, and the chemical sector is key to the UK's economy. At the moment they’re regulated by REACH, which combines legislation with an EU database, an EU regulator and the EU Single Market to keep us all safe.

"Although we welcome the Government’s aim to remain part of the REACH system after Brexit, its negotiation red line on the UK's membership of the Single Market makes that highly unlikely. That means it urgently needs to be working on a Plan B, and that simply hasn't happened, which leaves the sector facing a huge cliff-edge on the day we leave the EU."

Further information

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