The European Commission has published a review of the EU chemicals legislative framework with its findings from the Fitness Check of the most relevant chemicals legislation (excluding REACH) and which identifies challenges, gaps and weaknesses in around 40 pieces of sectoral chemicals legislation, including specific rules on chemicals found in pesticides or cosmetics, or rules on the labelling, classification and packaging of chemicals.

The report states the Fitness Check found that existing rules are fit for purpose and deliver a high level of protection against harmful chemicals for citizens and the environment and that they contribute to an efficient functioning of the single market. Indeed, the EU has one of the most comprehensive legal frameworks in the world, which offers a global benchmark for chemical risk management.

However, the report also identifies certain areas for improvement in the implementation and application of the rules, including the need for the simplification and streamlining of hazard and risk assessment processes, providing better consumer information, and supporting implementation of the legislation by the EU countries.

For example, the Fitness Check identified challenges regarding the Classification and Labelling Inventory held by the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA). The Inventory contains classification and labelling information for the substances to be placed on the market as notified by manufacturers and importers. However, there are often multiple classifications for the same substance because different notifiers fail to arrive at an agreed entry despite the legal obligation to make every effort to do so and despite ECHA’s and the Commission’s efforts to provide support to companies. This situation is exacerbated by the lack of a legal basis for ECHA to perform quality checks of the self-classifications and to ensure that the Inventory does not contain any obsolete notifications or errors.

The results of the report are being discussed at a high-level conference, EU Chemicals Policy 2030. These discussions will provide valuable input towards a common long-term vision and objectives of EU chemicals policy, in line with sustainable development goals and the new strategic agenda 2019-2024 to build a climate-neutral, green, fair and social Europe.

Last reviewed 4 July 2019