Brexit has presented various challenges to various industries in the UK. Some industries have embraced the decision because of the good prospects, while others portend difficulties. For example, the Chemical Business Association prefer for regulations after Brexit. Just recently, the UK made public her plans to transfer REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorization & restriction of Chemicals), a chemical law of the EU into UK law. This, according to the publication, would be dependent on a no-deal exit from the EU.
The plans indicate that the UK government intends to copy REACH from the EU and make necessary changes to it to ensure it works in the UK setting. The intention is to ensure that the chemical regulations in the UK are kept in line with those of the EU. Experts have suggested that all the chemical controls in the EU REACH chemical law will be copied, while the UK will simplify the process of decision-making in the adapted REACH.
Based on these Brexit-influenced decisions on chemical regulations, some concerns have been raised by chemicals distributors. Some of the concerns include;
- Variations in EU and UK chemical regulations post-Brexit
The proposed legislation by the UK does not appear to have any provision that ensures that the control by the UK government on chemicals will be the same as that of the EU post-Brexit. There are no indications that the UK government intend to commit to implementing future decisions by the EU on restrictions or control of chemical use. Rather, these will be determined by the decisions made by the new UK chemicals regulatory agency on chemicals. As a result, there is a very good chance that the UK controls may quickly change from those of the EU, making it possible for the UK to fall behind the EU in terms of protecting human health and environment.
- Ineffective overview methods and stakeholder involvement in the UK Chemical Agency
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), EU chemicals agency provides oversight for its activities in a method that involves stakeholders, Member States, technical committees, voting processes etc. As a result, regulations can be properly challenged and made more effective. There are doubts that these layers of oversight by the ECHA will not be incorporated by the UK chemicals agency, rather with plans to farm out the obligation and abilities to external scientific advice. This may lead to reduced effectiveness of the UK chemical agency compared to the ECHA.
- Lack of commitment to update regulations
There is little indication that there are plans for the UK to automatically update the chemical regulations of the UK when REACH is updated.