Merkel praises EU chemicals compromise
Wed Nov 23, 2005 01:13 PM ET
BRUSSELS, Nov 23 (Reuters) - New German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Wednesday the European Parliament had paved the way for a compromise on controversial EU chemicals legislation by making the bill more business-friendly.
Her comment, on an inaugural visit to the European Union legislature, suggested that Germany, which has Europe's biggest chemicals industry, would give the green light for a deal when ministers discuss it on Dec. 19.
Berlin had requested a delay in the decision, due to have been completed next week, to allow the new government time to study the complex measure.
"The European Parliament has made a special contribution to making the REACH directive more business friendly and simpler and provided a very good basis for discussion in the Council (of EU member states)," Merkel told a joint news conference with Parliament president Josep Borrell.
Seeking to protect the public from toxic substances, parliament last week backed a more industry-friendly version of the legislation, originally proposed by the executive European Commission, that has pitted Europe's chemicals industry against environmental groups for years.
Lawmakers approved an amended bill on Registration, Evaluation and Authorisation of Chemicals (REACH), designed to make companies prove that substances in everyday products such as cars, computers or paint are safe.
The properties of roughly 30,000 chemicals produced or imported in the European Union would have to be registered with a central agency. But only those of highest concern, such as carcinogens, would require testing and authorisation to be used.
Companies such as BASF, the world's top chemicals company by sales, and Bayer had lobbied Berlin and Brussels to the reduce the cost and administrative burden of REACH on industry, as had many small businesses.
The British EU presidency hopes to clinch political agreement on the measure among member states by the end of this year.
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