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Commission accused of hiding report ahead of crucial chemical conference

Participants at a major conference on the future of EU chemical policy could be left wondering why they bothered attending as the European Commission has failed to publish the report the event was supposed to discuss.

The conference, ‘EU chemicals policy 2030: building on the past, moving to the future‘, is due to be held in Brussels next week with delegates expected to travel from across Europe to attend.

Health and environmental groups have now sounded the alarm as with just days to go the Commission still hasn’t published a crucial report described as the Conference’s “raison d’être”.

Tatiana Santos, Chemicals Policy Manager at the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) told META:

“We have been waiting for this report since 2017, and preparing for this conference for months. People have booked tickets, made arrangements, it’s unacceptable that the Commission has failed to do its job and get this report out. We simply can’t understand why it hasn’t be published.”

When announcing the conference clear objectives were shared with participants including a promise that: “the Commission would provide the outcomes of its recent evaluations and initiatives in the EU chemicals policies” and that “all the relevant stakeholders could discuss opportunities and potential developments for the EU chemicals policy.”

The effectiveness of EU chemical laws has come under increasing scrutiny recently following revelations about the number of dangerous chemicals flowing into products years after being linked to cancer and other illnesses.

The EU’s flagship chemical regulation, known as ‘REACH’, should ensure the effective assessment, evaluation and control of substances available in Europe, but campaigners say additional resources are required to ensure the law is effective.

The Commission’s unpublished report is an assessment of all other EU chemical rules, a process referred to as the “non-REACH review”, which has analysed almost 50 pieces of relevant legislation.

In a joint letter to the European Commission President Jean-Claude Juncker, leading health and environmental groups including HEAL, ChemSec, the EEB and ClientEarth, have demanded the report be published ahead of the conference.

The groups also called on the Commission to set out a clear timetable for the development of a ‘non-toxic environment strategy’, a new strategy for tackling hormone disrupting substances, and to publish an assessment of whether laws on chemicals, waste and products are effectively working together.

Santos said: “On paper Europe has some of the best chemical laws in the world, but in reality these laws are only as effective as their implementation and enforcement – they need to be put into practice and we need to know whether they are working. Once this report is finally published, and we still hope that will be before next week’s conference, we look forward to supporting the better implementation of EU rules to protect us all by reducing toxic substances in our environment.”