BRUSSELS—Rulings by the European Union Court of Justice set a “potentially dangerous precedent” for the protection of confidential business information submitted by companies for EU substance and product registrations and approvals, industry body Cefic, or the European Industry Chemical Council, has warned.
The court's interpretation of the EU Aarhus Regulatio n"emission clause," said Cefic, will make it easier for any member of the public—and any competitor in Europe and abroad—to access valuable commercial data submitted by business to EU authorities even if this is proven to cause harm.
Commenting on the ruling issued Nov. 23, Cefic director general Marco Mensink said, “While understanding legitimate public interest in transparency, there has to be consideration for situations where making confidential business information public exposes a company to competitive risk.
“How can a company confidently invest in developing new products or processes when its competitive edge can be given away?”
According to Cefic, confidentiality protection is a fundamental part of existing EU chemicals laws such as REACH and biocides legislation, so that competitors are prevented from accessing commercially valuable data.
“One of the most valuable assets of a chemical company is considered to be the composition and method of manufacture of its products,” according to the organization's statement. “If obtained by competitors at low cost, the innovator is deprived of the expected return on investment and may suffer up to 60-70 percent global sales in niche markets.”