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de Brún welcomes EU Parliament committee vote in favour of stronger legislation for chemicals

10 October, 2006

Sinn Féin MEP Bairbre de Brún has today welcomed a vote in the European Parliament‚s Environment committee which strengthens the EU commitment to regulate the chemicals industry and adequately control harmful substances. The dossier voted on in committee this morning is the largest and most complex to pass through this committee to date, with over 1,000 amendments in its first and second readings.

Speaking this morning Ms de Brún said:

"This morning's vote in the Environment Committee was an important milestone in the creation of strong legislation which seeks to minimize the levels of hazardous chemicals in the marketplace. MEPs voted to strengthen the REACH ('Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals') legislation in a number of key areas including the substitution of dangerous chemicals and a five year time limit for the authorisation of substances.

"I am particularly pleased that the 'substitution' principle has been adopted by a qualified majority. This send a very clear signal to governments throughout the EU that the MEPs are determined to see dangerous substances substituted, where safer alternatives exist. Today's strong vote will set the scene for negotiations between the European Parliament and the European Council in the weeks ahead. This legislation will be adopted jointly by parliament and council, so the stance adopted by parliament has considerable weight.

"MEPs also voted for the requirement of a Chemical Safety Report for all substances and also voted to emphasise the duty of care on the part of industry, as well as a lowering of the threshold of concern before substances can be added to the list that require authorisation and the right of consumers to ask for information on substances contained in articles.

"This is a good result for those of us who value the protection of workers‚ health, the general public and our environment across the EU. Almost two years ago the WWF conducted a study on the effects of chemicals which exist in some fire-resistant sofas, non-stick pans, grease proof-pizza boxes, flexible PVC, fragrances and pesticides. A number of MEPs volunteered as guinea pigs for the purpose of the test and the results were astounding. The studies had shown an average of 37 chemicals in the blood of the participants.

"This morning's vote sends out a clear signal to the European Council that the European Parliament supports strong EU wide legislation regulating the chemicals industry. It is important that the Environment committee has taken a strong stand and given a strong signal as the final vote will be undertaken in the coming weeks." ENDS

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