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The European Commission's White Paper “Strategy for a Future Chemicals Policy”: A Review

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The European Commission has proposed a radical new policy for the regulation of chemicals in the EU in the form of a White Paper. The current system has separate regulatory provisions for “new” chemicals (introduced to the market since September 18, 1981) and “existing” chemicals (on the market before September 18, 1981). The proposed future policy will have a single unified regulatory system for all chemicals, which should result in better regulation of chemicals in the EU single market. It will be better because risk assessments will be targeted at the chemicals of greatest concern. Furthermore, the system will be streamlined, making regulatory decisions faster, and thus reducing the so-called burden of the past (the large number of chemicals that have never been assessed for their risks to human health or the environment). The new system incorporates the precautionary principle, which will be applied where there is an early indication of unacceptable risk or where there is undue delay in the regulatory process. Moreover, the new strategy is intended to promote greater transparency for all stakeholders.

Keywords: Chemicals; European Union; precautionary principle; risk governance; risk regulation

Document Type: Research Article

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/1539-6924.00317

Publication date: April 1, 2003

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