- Research Handbooks on the WTO series
Edited by Tracey Epps and Michael J. Trebilcock
Chapter 12: The REACH Regulation and the TBT Agreement: The role of the TBT Committee in regulatory processes*
The REACH Regulation is one of the most complex regulatory frameworks ever designed by the European Union (hereinafter the ‘EU’). It took five years of intense legislative work to prepare its final version, while the implementation period has been projected to be phased in over eleven years owing to the serious impact on business operators and the overall complexity of the system. The REACH Regulation also replaced more than 40 different EU directives and regulations. The goals of the Regulation are indeed ambitious. It intends to comprehensively address, for the first time in history, the health and environmental risks posed by chemicals. The idea underlying REACH is that all chemical substances on the EU market – whether imported or produced locally – need to be registered, while those which are considered as potentially dangerous for human health or the environment are required to go through formal assessment and receive special authorization. Some substances are wholly restricted – their import, production and use is prohibited in the entire territory of the EU. Not surprisingly, the Regulation has been met with strong opposition not only from European industry, but also from many of the EU’s trading partners. Although countries in general have acknowledged the legitimacy of the objectives sought by the EU, they have expressed numerous concerns regarding the necessity and proportionality of the new system. Recently, the process of REACH implementation has also generated various controversies.
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