As part of delegation of Members of the European Parliament, London Conservative MEP visited the European Chemicals Agency in Helsinki today.

Marina held meetings with senior officials to discuss the EU REACH (Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals) Directive. The complex directive has already had a negative impact on industry and plans to increase the scope of REACH are now threatening businesses in Marina’s London constituency.

Marina lobbied the agency to authorise the use of chemicals where no genuine alternative exists. She also called for the licensing process to be simplified, especially for SMEs.

Marina said: “We need safer chemicals, but the REACH directive is complicated, arbitrary and, like so many EU rules, a “one-size-fits-all” approach.

“As REACH increases its scope to include chemicals such as chromium trioxide, businesses are facing problems in finding viable alternatives. And the licensing process is dense and opaque, making it difficult for companies – especially SMEs – to make applications for continued use of the chemical.

“In my London constituency, one company may face closure if it cannot continue to use chromium trioxide, and is currently facing licensing costs of £120,000 including a fee of €40,000 (£31,700) to the European Chemicals Agency; an enormous outlay for a small business.

“We need to ensure that EU rules protect workers and the environment. Safe alternatives for harmful chemicals should be substituted where they exist, but mandatory replacements are hurting business. We need more workable regulation otherwise we face the closure of businesses in the EU and the flight of industry to countries where the regulatory regime is less strict.”

Marina received assurance from the agency that it was making efforts to support SMEs throughout the course of the licensing procedure, including holding face-to-face meetings and workshops to discuss the submission process.

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