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The highlight of HCF 2021: the new EU chemicals strategy

For the first time since the 2001 adoption of the White Paper on the strategy of the future chemicals policy, the European Commission put forward last October a comprehensive new chemicals strategy called Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability (CSS), taking the level of protection from harmful chemicals a big step forward. The CSS is part of the European Green Deal, flagship initiative launched by President Von der Leyen and Vice-President Timmermans in December 2019.

Next April 28, the Commissioner for Environment in charge of the CSS implementation, Virginijus Sinkevičius, will open HCF 2021 with a keynote on the many aspects and actions of the CSS expected to be rolled out over the remaining mandate of this Commission. The CSS implies a targeted reopening of the REACH regulation. The Commission also wants to copy some of the resulting changes in many other EU legislations that focus on chemicals substances. So, the European Council and Parliament will have a busy time ahead to follow the legislative planning of the Commission in the coming years.

Similar to REACH, the CSS pretends to balance the more effective phasing out of the most harmful substances with innovation in green chemistry to preserve the competitiveness of EU industry. Exactly this delicate balance between presumably conflicting objectives justifies the close concertation with stakeholders through the novel High-level Roundtable set forward by the Commission CSS proposal. Prominent places in that Roundtable will be offered to the European Chemical Industry Council or CEFIC and to the European Environmental Bureau or EEB, the largest environmental NGO in Europe.

HCF invites all attendees join the high-level debate between the Commissioner for Environment, Director General of Cefic Marco Mensink and the Secretary General of the EEB Jeremy Wates. The exchange will be moderated by Andrew Turley of Chemical Watch.

Before that debate, the participants will be able to watch the more technical panel debate on Green Chemicals Policy which one of the leading Commission experts on SCC (Otto Linher of DG GROW) will moderate with the chemical regulation experts from the above-mentioned organisations (Steven van de Broeck from CEFIC and Tatiana Santos from EEB) as well as with a representative from one Member State (Henrik Larsen from Denmark), a speaker from the downstream industries (Oliver Bisazza from Medtech) and one non-EU voice (Tala Henry from the USEPA). Questions on CSS can be addressed to that panel.


Geert Dancet
Secretary General at Helsinki Chemical Forum