BRUSSELS—The European Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) and London-based Chemical Industries Association have raised concerns about the United Kingdom's possible disengagement from the European Chemicals Agency.
In a March 16 statement, CEFIC and CIA noted U.K. prime minister Theresa May's speech on March 2 where she signaled Westminster's inclination to remain part of the European Union agencies in the form of "associate membership."
"However, when the EU issued its draft guidelines for the negotiations of the future EU-U.K. relationship on March 7… the draft text did not include any mention of associate membership of EU agencies," the joint statement said.
With the draft guidelines expected to be approved at the European Council on March 22 and 23, Cefic and CIA said the omission has created "considerable cause for concern."
The involvement of the U.K. in ECHA serves the interests of the chemicals and downstream-user industries on both sides of the Channel, their statement pointed out. Referring to the implementation of REACH and U.K's contribution, the statement said: "Losing U.K. expertise would only weaken the significant progress made in the evaluation and regulation of chemicals."
Establishing a separate U.K. agency, the chemical bodies noted, "would take years to achieve, and at significant cost."
In addition, the continued partnership between the U.K. and ECHA would avoid duplicate testing and related costs under REACH.
This would assure continuity of supply to key customer industries such as aerospace, automotive and pharmaceuticals, which rely on access to chemicals from both the U.K. and the EU.
The statement went on to call on the EU-27 and U.K. to examine models for continued collaboration and regulatory consistency.