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Last Updated: Thursday, 17 November 2005, 17:57 GMT
In quotes: Reach chemicals vote
Cooling towers at Glaxo plant
Reaction to the European Parliament's vote on the Reach chemicals legislation varies widely.

Here is a selection of views from people in various walks of life.


European Environment Commissioner Stavros Dimas: The result is a "marked improvement in the level of protection of health and the environment" compared with existing rules.

Dutch conservative MEP, Ria Oomen-Ruijten: "The new regulation is a mammoth operation. It should lead to more protection of the environment and more protection of human health, while at the same time enhancing industrial competitiveness.

"Regrettably a combination of Greens, Socialist and Liberal members rendered the authorisation system of the draft regulation unworkable and far too bureaucratic. I thus look forward to parliament's second reading where, in line with the expected council position, we will remove this anomaly from the text."

Swedish Green MEP Carl Schlyter: "Now the Reach registration phase is so weak, we will not know what safe alternatives are on the market because we will test much fewer chemicals."

British Labour MEP Mary Honeyball: "Today's vote seems technical but its content has not yet been realised. We will look back in 20 years and ask how we could ever have let 30,000 unknown and unsafe chemicals be used in products we use in our everyday lives.

"I am no doctor but would not be surprised if untold health risks fell for future generations due to today's vote to regulate these substances. It is now up to (EU ministers) to get approval for this sensible plan that balances environmental and business interests."

British Conservative MEP John Bowis: "The British presidency must now craft a better compromise on authorisation and scope before the legislation returns to the Parliament for second reading."

British Liberal MEP Chris Davies: "For too long we have been treating our planet like a giant chemistry set. Now Europe is taking steps to bring the situation under control and set safety standards for the world. Instead of waiting for science to expose the latest scandal, chemical companies will have to prove that their products are safe before they put them on the market.

"This is a massive defeat for industry lobbyists who have tried every trick in the book to undermine the proposals. MEPs have taken steps to lower the costs for industry of implementing Reach, reducing the number of tests required to prove safety, but 99% of chemicals likely to pose a threat to health or the environment will still get identified. It's a good result for consumers, for the environment and for the chemicals industry."

British Green MEP Caroline Lucas: "A deal between Socialist and conservative MEPs has ensured that the heavy hand of industry can be seen all over this legislation, which has been redrafted to pander to cost-cutting and self-interest at the expense of European citizens' health.

"We need a strong Reach - and the package on the table just wasn't good enough. I was forced to abstain in order to maintain my support for the principle of a new regulatory regime for toxic chemicals whilst refusing to support a poor piece of legislation, which has been drafted to cut the costs faced by the chemicals industry at the expense of human health and the environment."

Swedish MEP Lena Ek, of the Alliance of Liberals and Democrats for Europe: "The overall balance of this package is fair and not far from the position being discussed in Council. We stand a good chance of achieving inter-institutional consensus on this by the end of the year."


Aleksandra Kordecka, Friends of the Earth: "This means we are not going to have full safety data for some 85% of substances on the market that were originally supposed to be covered by Reach. Without basic toxic data, we won't be able to assess the hazard posed by chemical substances."

Greenpeace EU policy officer Nadia Haiama-Neurohr: "This is a good first step in the drive to rid our environment of the harmful, toxic chemicals now in use, but it should be seen as only a first step. If the EU is truly serious about protecting its citizens and environment we need to legally require all chemicals to have safety data on them. We live in a world where toxic chemicals are turning up in breast milk and even umbilical cords.

"Today's decision will still leave thousands of chemicals that may contribute to this situation with little or no safety data on them... Let's hope that the Blair-led EU will vote for strengthened legislation in December and not cave in to the vested interests of the powerful German chemicals industry and other key players in the chemicals sector by watering down Reach or accepting further delays."


Nadine Toscani, senior policy adviser at Unice: "The legislation is going in the right direction."

Executive Director of the Chemical Industry Council (Cefic) Thomas Jostmann: "This will have a tremendous impact on the likelihood that companies will invest in Europe."

Cefic press release: "The chemical industry welcomes the fact that a broad political majority could agree on amendments to the registration element of Reach that aimed at improving the workability of Reach to ensure fast and focused development of additional knowledge about chemicals and effective improvement of health and environment protection.

"Cefic however is disappointed that such an approach could not be achieved on the authorisation element of Reach, and considers that the vote reflects a conceptual misunderstanding on how substances of concern can be safely handled and used. In particular, industry regrets that authorisation might not be granted and/or would be time- limited even if safe management of the substance is confirmed, which contradicts the risk-based approach.

"Cefic hopes that further steps to improve the workability and effectiveness of the legislation can be taken through the work of the Council and of the Commission."

Judith Hackitt, Director General of the Chemical Industries Association (CIA): "Today's vote in the Parliament marks the first formal legislative milestone for Reach since this chemicals management debate started back in 1998 under the last UK presidency of the EU.

"We hope the vote gives this 2005 UK presidency the boost it needs to draw this phase of the debate to a close by the end of the year. Then we can all focus on preparing for Reach and delivering the environmental and health benefits all parties wish to see following its effective implementation."


Adolfo Sansolini, chief executive officer of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection and chair of the European Coalition to End Animal Experiments: "The results of this first vote in the European Parliament reveal a much-needed shift towards greater transparency within the chemicals and household products industries, and a departure from an emphasis on costly, time-consuming and unreliable animal tests to more biologically relevant non-animal alternatives. Today's vote bodes well, not only for millions of animal lives, but human and environmental health too.

It was a relief to see substances used in cosmetics kept exempt from the scope of the regulation, upholding the wishes of the general public who don't want their cosmetics and toiletries tested on animals. This means that the Cosmetics Directive, which prohibits the animal testing of cosmetic ingredients in the EU after March 2009, and which phases in a ban on the sale of animal-tested cosmetics, will remain safe.

Another important amendment to be accepted was that of mandatory data sharing, with an 18-month deadline for the submission of data for pre-registration to provide adequate time to share all existing relevant data. Although some opt out clauses were added which weaken this benefit, mandatory data sharing will still result in a huge saving in the total number of animal lives."

Andre Menache, of animal rights campaign group, Animal Aid: "Today's European Parliament vote is a tragic missed opportunity to spare millions of animals from horrendous suffering.

"Animal Aid recognises the need to safeguard human health and to protect the environment from toxic chemicals. But animal toxicity tests fail to provide data that is relevant to people. The adoption of humane and scientifically-superior test methods should have been a priority."

RSPCA senior scientist Barry Phillips: "We have yet to examine all the amendments that MEPs voted for today in detail, but we welcome the fact that the European Parliament seems to have addressed many of the RSPCA's concerns.

"Animals must not suffer and die just so a form can be filled in. A more intelligent, thoughtful approach is required, avoiding the futile compilation of a database with information from animal tests that may or may not be useful."

Jan Creamer, chief executive of Animal Defenders International: "We are bitterly disappointed that the European Parliament has seen fit to reject 20 amendments put forward in the Environment Committee report to use alternatives to experiments on animals. Consequently, Reach remains locked into animal testing, which is like insisting people use typewriters instead of computers. Animal tests are inefficient, outdated, and inaccurate - it is time for change.

"I must thank our tens of thousands of supporters who have, over the past two years, distributed hundreds of thousands of leaflets and contacted their MEPs. This action has undoubtedly had a huge impact on today's vote. But we are bitterly disappointed that a chance to change the way Europe approaches safety testing has not been taken."


Jim Murray, director of the European Consumers Organisation (BEUC): "We are all exposed to up to 100,000 chemical substances that have never been properly assessed for their safety or impact on the environment. Reach's ambition was already only to assess 30,000 of these chemicals and with today's vote many of the most problematic substances will either have to wait six years instead of three to be assessed or worst, won't be assessed at all.

Some of these chemicals, but we do not know which, almost certainly pose unacceptable risks to ourselves and our children."

See some of the chemicals affected by the law

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