ChemRegs Newsletter – September 2017
ECHA information on the UK’s withdrawal from the EU
The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) has introduced a new section on their webpages to provide information on the impact of the United Kingdom’s withdrawal from the European Union.
On 29 March 2017, the UK Government invoked Article 50 of the Treaty of the European Union (TEU) and notified its intention to withdraw the UK from the EU. At the moment, the UK will therefore become a non-EU (“third”) country as from 30 March 2019.
The new ECHA section is either a subjective laden one-sided view of the UK’s position upon leaving the EU (if you voted leave) or a pragmatic warning of the need to compromise and seek a transition/reversal of leaving/new agreement that does not change existing protocols/balance of power/four freedoms (if you voted remain)
The information is given from ECHA’s viewpoint on the likely implications of the UK leaving the EU. It is divided into eight sections, including advice to business operators in the format of questions and answers.
The eight sections are in bold below, with a précis of what they say:
The UK withdrawal’s impact on ECHA – Background information
The EU chemical legislation applies in 31 countries, maybe 30 soon if/when the UK leaves. These are the 28 EU Member States and the 3 European Economic Area (EEA) countries (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway).
ECHA says it will carry on as normal but admits pragmatically that it, like most commentators, does not know the full impact of UK’s withdrawal on ECHA’s or the EU’s economic operators.
Cooperating with UK authorities
It is a legal requirement under EU law that each member state establishes a competent enforcement body. In the UK this is the Health and Safety Executive (HSE), in the Republic of Ireland this is the Health and Safety Authority (HSA). These domestic authorities are tasked with enforcing ECHA’s rules. For example, the Globally Harmonized System of Classification and Labelling of Chemicals (GHS) is promulgated by the United Nations. It is given legal effect by a EU regulation and the enforcement of the regulation is further delegated to national level.
If/when the UK leaves the EU, it will not have to enforce EU chemical regulation. It will then enforce the GHS for chemical hazard identification, so in effect nothing will change.
ECHA states the UK government will lose access to the large database held by ECHA but will still be able to access the public database used by businesses daily.
In relation to substance evaluation work undertaken by the HSE, ECHA has stated the HSE will no longer perform this work from the 29 March 2019 and ECHA will decide which member state will take over this work.
Impact on ECHA’s regulatory decisions
REACH registration numbers and authorisations only apply in the UK until 29 March 2019.
More on this further down.
Recruitment of staff
In a lovely act of closing down friendship and mutual cooperation and eschewing the principle of recruiting the most suitable candidate of scientific and regulatory ability in the furtherance of environmental and health outcomes, ECHA will not employ UK nationals after 29 March 2019.
Advice to companies/Q&As
Some useful information via dropdown boxes on REACH, CLP, BPR, PIC.
UK participation in ECHA’s bodies and networks
ECHA oversee various information and assessment committees. Examples are,
- Scientific committee
- Forum for Exchange of Information on Enforcement
- Member State Committee
- Risk Assessment Committee
- Socio-economic Analysis Committee
- Biocidal Products Committee
After 29 March 2019, ECHA has decided that there shall be no UK involvement on these committees. So, both the UK and EU will lose a valuable source of mutually beneficial information on substances that find their way into the environment, and ultimately into us.
Inform yourself on the EU-UK withdrawal negotiations
ECHA has given a link to the UK Department for Exiting the European Union, who are handling the process of leaving the European Union.
A link is also given for the “Task Force on Article 50 Negotiations with the United Kingdom”, headed by Chief Negotiator Michel Barnier, who conducts the negotiations on behalf of the 27 other EU Member States.
Procurement and contracts
ECHA spends a considerable amount of public money on contracts for goods and services, such as contracting scientific expertise, IT services etc.
ECHA will terminate contracts held by UK companies on 30 March 2019.
The information from ECHA in these eight sections appears at first glance to be giving a binary outcome.
Basically, if there is a deal between the EU and UK some things may carry on as usual, but if there is no deal then ECHA will (probably at the behest of the European Commission) give a punitive response to the UK. This can be seen by the repeated use of the instrument of termination of the UK’s participation in knowledge forums, contracts, and expertise in decisions on risk, etc.
The tone set by ECHA appears to be in stark contrast to the UK government position paper ‘Continuity in the availability of goods for the EU and the UK’ (see our August Newsletter), which has a more co-operative approach and aims to recognise the validity of type approvals, certificates and registrations issued prior to exit. The UK’s position is to avoid unnecessary duplication of activities and provide legal certainty, that where businesses have undertaken compliance activities prior to exit, they should not be required to duplicate these activities in order to place goods on the UK and the EU market after exit.
However, ECHA does acknowledge that a potential future agreement between the EU and the UK on their future relationship may profoundly alter some of the content given in this new section.
There will be many twists and turns in the road before we get to the final destination.
SIGNIFICANT CHANGES AND AMENDMENTS TO THE IATA 59TH EDITION (2018)
IATA has published a list of the significant changes and amendments in the next edition of the Dangerous Goods Regulations due to come into force from 1 January 2018.
The 59th edition of the IATA Dangerous Goods Regulations incorporates all amendments made by the IATA Dangerous Goods Board and includes addenda issued by ICAO to the 2017–2018 edition of the Technical Instructions. The full list is available from here but a summary is given below:
2.3—Dangerous Goods Carried by Passengers or Crew
Limitations have been adopted on the number of portable electronic devices (PED) and the number of spare batteries for the PED that may be carried by passengers or crew.
There are a number of additions, deletions and amendments to variations submitted by operators.
3.9.2—This subsection has been restructured to bring in all substances and articles that are assigned to Class 9 with their respective UN numbers and proper shipping names. The substances and articles have then been grouped according to the hazard they pose in transport.
Various special provisions have been revised.
Revisions include new restrictions on packages containing lithium batteries UN 3090 and UN 3480 and revisions to packing instructions for engines containing flammable liquid fuels
7—Marking & Labelling
Text has been added recommending that the UN number(s) on the lithium battery mark be of a minimum size.
Table 9.3.A and the provisions of 9.3.2 have been revised to introduce segregation requirements for lithium batteries (UN 3480 and UN 3090 only) and dangerous goods classified in Class 1 other than Division 1.4S, Division 2.1, Class 3, Division 4.1 or Division 5.1.
Appendix B—In Appendix B.2.2.4 new Cargo IMP codes have been added for UN 3090, Section IA and IB of PI 968—RBM and UN 3480, Section IA and IB of PI 965—RBI.
Appendix D—contact details for competent authorities have been updated.
Appendix E—changes have been made to the list of UN Specification Packaging Suppliers (E.1) and the Package Testing Facilities (E.2).
Appendix F—the list of Sales Agents (F.2), IATA Accredited Training Schools (F.3—F.5) and IATA Authorised Training Centres (F.6) have been revised.
Appendix I—A new appendix has been added to this edition of the DGR to provide the detail of the changes that will come into effect as of 1 January 2019 based on the adoption of the changes arising from the 20th revised edition of the UN Model Regulations as well as the changes that have been agreed to date by the ICAO Dangerous Goods Panel for inclusion into the 2019–2020 edition of the Technical Instructions. These changes include:
- replacement of most instances of the word “risk” by the word “hazard”. The changes reflects the increasing use of safety management systems where “risk” is the likelihood of an event combined with the severity of the outcome, whereas hazard is used to identify the inherent properties. So, for example a substance may have a “subsidiary hazard”, not a “subsidiary risk”.
- significant changes to the provisions for the classification of corrosive substances. These changes reflect the work of the UN Subcommittee with the GHS Subcommittee to better align the classification provisions for transport for Class 8 substances with those for supply and use.
- a new requirement for manufacturers and subsequent distributors of lithium cells or batteries to make available a summary of the UN 38.3 tests.
- new provisions for the classification of articles containing dangerous goods, n.o.s.. This includes twelve new UN numbers, UN 3537 to UN 3548, that have been assigned to articles containing dangerous goods in Classes 2, 3, 4, 5, 8 and 9 and Division 6.1. The details of the provisions that will come into effect in 2019 for air transport have still to be finalised by the ICAO dangerous Goods Panel.
- a number of new and modified special provisions.
- removal of the lithium battery handling label (188.8.131.52). As of 1 January 2019 only the lithium battery mark (184.108.40.206) will be permitted on packages of lithium batteries prepared in accordance with Section IB of PI 965 or PI 968, or Section II of PI 965 to PI 970.
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