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Minister Sherlock urges Irish industry to take advantage of opportunities under EU chemicals legislation

The Health and Safety Authority today (Wednesday) hosted a conference in Dublin on REACH, the EU Chemicals Regulation aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the effects of chemicals.

March 20th 2013 

The Health and Safety Authority today (Wednesday) hosted a conference in Dublin on REACH, the EU Chemicals Regulation aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the effects of chemicals. 

Opening the conference, Minister Sean Sherlock TD, Minister for Research and Innovation, said, “In implementing the REACH legislation I’m pleased to see that progress is being made in achieving a balance between protection and competitiveness in Ireland and across Europe. Ireland has been playing an important role in ensuring that industry competitiveness and innovation underpins the key protection role that must be fulfilled under the REACH legislation." 

"Our pharma-chem and high tech sectors are committed to regulatory compliance with REACH. Given their importance to the Irish economy, every effort should be given to support them, as well as SMEs, to not only comply with but also exploit the competitive and innovation opportunities that REACH provides.” 

The conference, entitled REACH-ing a balance between protection and competitiveness in Europe, featured speakers from the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), Member State Authorities (Denmark, Germany, UK, Sweden) as well as environmental and worker organisations and representatives from the Irish Pharmaceutical and High Tech sectors.

Mr Geert Dancet, Executive Director of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), highlighted how ECHA has and will continue to work and collaborate with all stakeholders. “Reaching the balance between protection and competitiveness cannot be achieved in isolation or in the short term which is why in its forthcoming multiannual strategic plan ECHA envisions further strengthening the active engagement of authorities and stakeholders in its activities.” 

Martin O’Halloran, Chief Executive of the Health and Safety Authority, said, “At the Health and Safety Authority we are committed to implementing the REACH legislation in a way that not only protects health and the environment but also maximises industry competitiveness and enhances innovation and the opportunities that go with that. I would urge all businesses to ensure they are aware of and fulfil their obligations in relation to the management of chemicals and be positioned to take advantage of the opportunities that will emerge as a result.” 

At today’s conference the European Commission also outlined details of the outcomes of the REACH review and their 2020 Roadmap on Substances of Very High Concern (SVHCs) which details the way forward to achieving the objective of having all currently known SVHCs identified and included in the candidate list by 2020. The Commission further emphasised the importance of close co-operation and collaboration between the Member States, ECHA and the Commission in order to meet the 2020 commitment.  Key stakeholders representing industry, workers and the environment reaffirmed their support for REACH and stressed the importance of close collaboration in the continued implementation of the legislation. 


For further information contact Gavin Lonergan, Head of Communications, Health and Safety Authority. Tel: (087) 0523006 / Email: 


Cian Connaughton, Press – Irish Presidency of the Council of the EU, DJEI, Tel: (087) 9186982 / Email: 


REACH is an EU-wide Regulation aimed at protecting human health and the environment from the effects of chemicals which, since it came into effect back in 2006, has placed new obligations on the European chemical industry and those that use chemicals. 

In discussing the recent review of the REACH regulation, the European Commission confirmed REACH is working well and has achieved the objectives after five years of operation. There are a number of recommendations which will require all stakeholders, the Commission, ECHA, Member State Authorities and Industry to co-operate closely in their implementation. 

At today’s conference industry reaffirmed its support for the REACH objectives and emphasised the need to manage the impact on competitiveness, innovation and supply chain stability. Stakeholders representing workers and the environment noted that while REACH is working to provide more information for better decision making, it is vital that the quality of the information provided by industry is high.  Strong supply chain communication and greater use of the data as well as enforcement by the authorities will contribute to REACH fully meeting its objectives on protecting health, the environment and promoting alternative methods. 

Conference Details 

The Conference has been timed to coincide with the meeting of the ECHA (European Chemicals Agency) Management Board in Dublin on 21/22 March. Approximately 150 attendees are due to attend, including National Competent Authorities, ECHA Management Board attendees, Commission officials, industry stakeholders, employee representatives and NGOs. 

The aim of the Conference is to: 

(i) Highlight the competitiveness and innovation objective/potential of the REACH Regulation as part of the Irish Presidency focus on stability, jobs and growth. 

(ii) Address the most recent REACH developments, the REACH Review, the Second Regulatory Review of Nanomaterials, and a Commission Roadmap for addressing Substances of Very High Concern. 

(iii) Provide a forum for highlighting for Irish industry some key compliance deadlines under REACH this year (Registration 2nd deadline May 31st (for substances manufactured or imported in the EU between 100 and 1,000 tonnes) and the first series of Authorisation applications which started in February). 

(iv) Provide a rare opportunity for many Irish REACH stakeholders, including those in the pharmachemical, high tech, medical devices and food sectors, to raise and discuss key regulatory issues, including compliance challenges, directly with the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency and other Member State representatives. 

Background to the EU REACH Regulation (EC) No. 1907/2006 

The EU REACH Regulation deals with the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of chemicals and governing their use by industry.  It was introduced in 2006 to replace 40 different Regulations and Directives that had previously governed the use of chemicals.  REACH is the most comprehensive regime regulating the use of chemicals in the world, and one of the hopes for it is that it will set the standard for chemicals regulation globally.  

A 2006 Government Decision gave the lead role for the implementation of REACH in Ireland to the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). The Regulation also established the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) as a dedicated EU institution. 

Aims of REACH 

The core aims of REACH are to:

(i) Ensure a high level of protection of human health and the environment from the risks that can be posed by chemicals,

(ii) Promote alternative methods for the assessment of hazards of substances (i.e. reduce levels of animal testing),

(iii) Ensure the free circulation of substances on the internal market of the EU, and,

(iv) Enhance the competitiveness and innovation of the EU chemicals industry.

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