“Waiting for REACH” – NGOs publish study on the delay in the EU´s chemicals reform and its disastrous consequences

New report by EEB and ChemTrust shows the consequences of the EU Commission’s policy of delaying the regulation of harmful chemicals. The delay in the chemicals reform REACH endangers the environment, health and the competitiveness of EU industry. 

The long-awaited reform of the EU’s key chemicals law, REACH, has the potential to have a significant positive impact on human health and the environment, the functioning of the circular economy, and the competitiveness and innovation potential of European industry.

Nevertheless, on October 18, 2022, the European Commission gave in to pressure from the German chemical industry and announced in its work program for 2023 that it would postpone the publication of the proposal for the revision of REACH by twelve months . The revision proposal was postponed to the fourth quarter of 2023 and is now at risk of not being launched in the current legislative period due to the 2024 European elections, which would result in another delay and new negotiations.

The study “Waiting for REACH: The negative impacts of delaying reform of EU chemicals legislation”, published today by the European Environment Bureau, EEB, of which we are a member from WECF, and CHEM Trust, shows the far-reaching consequences of such a delay. It jeopardizes the future of green economic growth in the EU and will perpetuate current inadequate levels of human and animal protection and widespread toxic pollution. [1]

Furthermore, delaying the REACH revision would damage the legacy of the Green Deal and create great uncertainty about the direction of the EU chemical industry. This would come at a time when there is an urgent need for clarity about the legal framework and a clear signal to the market and investors about a phasing out of the use of hazardous substances towards necessary innovations.

“The message of the report from our colleagues is clear: we need the REACH revision template by June 2023. The longer the revision of the REACH regulation takes, the longer people and the environment will be exposed to dangerous chemicals due to the ineffectiveness of the current processes, e.g are carcinogenic, endocrine disrupting and persistent. Through HBM4EU we know how high the burden on people, including children, young people and pregnant women, is already. The new REACH regulation must set a target for phasing out the most harmful chemicals by 2030. The German chemical industry cannot prevent this.” Johanna Hausmann, WECF Senior Policy Advisor


Download the report of the EEB here


[1] Scientists recently declared that chemical pollution has crossed a planetary boundary; a UN environment report finds chemical pollution has caused more deaths than COVID-19. Daily exposure to a mix of toxic substances has been linked to increased health risks, fertility and developmental impairments, and the loss of insect, bird and mammal populations. Some 12,000 chemicals known to cause cancer and infertility, reduce vaccine effectiveness and other health effects are widely present in everyday products, including in sensitive categories such as baby diapers and pacifiers. Babies are now born “preloaded“.