PARIS — The European Commission has just presented its Work Program 2024, and in it there was notably no mention of the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals, or REACH, a governing regulation that can impact the beauty industry.
During his closing statements of the European Parliament’s plenary session on Tuesday, Maroš Šefčovič, vice president of the European Commission, addressed questions, including about REACH, which came into effect in 2007 in the European Union. Its stated goal is to protect human health and the environment against harmful effects of chemical substances.
Šefčovič clarified that if a proposal was already announced in a previous Commission’s work program, it is not reannounced in the current one.
“It’s there, it’s planned, and we are working on it,” he said.
Regarding the Green Deal, which has as its overarching goal to make Europe the first climate-neutral continent, Šefčovič said “there will be relentless effort to keep the Green Deal ambitions at the highest possible level.”
He called REACH, which is part of the Green Deal, the most comprehensive legislation of chemicals in the world.
“Amending REACH is a complex undertaking,” Šefčovič said. “Changes to the legislative framework would need to achieve a complex balance, significantly reduce health hazards and environmental damage from chemical pollution, but also address the chemicals of very high concern, while ensuring the availability of chemicals that are essential for the key green transition technologies, guaranteeing the level playing field with our international competitors.”
He explained the issues are being discussed in great detail.
“Given the complexity of the file, indeed it is possible that the REACH amendment will have to be taken forward in the next mandate,” Šefčovič said. “What we want to do is to prepare this file in great detail to make sure that we would complete all the necessary preparatory work and also to find the best possible timing for this proposal, which will take several years to approve — that it would be supported by the proper momentum.”
Concerning animal well-being, Šefčovič said the Commission has been acting to improve it for more than 40 years.
“Animal welfare is and will remain a priority for the Commission,” he said.
The fight to end animal testing in Europe has been intensifying. In late July, the Commission said it is accelerating the rate at which the practice will be phased out.
In response to a European Citizens’ Initiative, called “Save Cruelty-Free Cosmetics — Commit to a Europe Without Animal Testing,” the Commission said it would introduce a new road map with legislative and non-legislative actions to further reduce testing on animals.
The goal is to ultimately move to an animal-free regulatory system under the chemicals legislation, including REACH and the Plant Protection Products Regulation, and continue supporting animal testing alternatives.