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Dear Mrs. President, hold on to your promises


Dear Mrs. President, hold on to your promises

Published on 26 Sep 2022

Last week, ChemSec wrote a letter to the President of the European Commission, Ursula von der Leyen. We urged her to move forward with sustainability commitments despite growing pressure from industry trying to put a halt to the ambitious agenda set out in the Green Deal and the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability. This is what we wrote to her.

Dear Mrs. von der Leyen,

We know that strong forces are trying to get you and the Commission to abandon promises due to the ongoing energy crisis in Europe. But we urge you to remain committed to the ambitious agenda that you have set out for the Green Deal in general and the Chemicals Strategy for Sustainability in particular.

More and more scientific evidence is pointing towards the fact that chemical pollution is one of the biggest threats we face today and will face in the future. Harmful chemicals are not only polluting our environment and leading to loss of biodiversity, they are also entering our own bodies leading to negative health effects such as cancer and infertility. This is where the Chemicals Strategy fits in. It provides the necessary tools to both halt chemical pollution and to grow the market for safer alternatives.

With this letter we ask of you, Mrs. von der Leyen, to ensure that the Commission moves forward with the promises made in the Chemicals Strategy, specifically the revision of the REACH regulation, as soon as possible.

“We know that legislation drives innovation and steers the market in a more sustainable direction”

This would not only benefit human health and the environment, it would also give companies in the European Union an enormous future advantage going into the green transition.

As a leading NGO on hazardous chemicals, we have deep insights from our collaborations with progressive companies. We know that legislation drives innovation, that it steers the market in a more sustainable direction and that it leads to better and more resilient business models. It is also clear that there is no contradiction between higher sustainability ambitions and competitiveness, instead the opposite is true.

Moreover, postponing the commitments to revise REACH would create uncertainty and stall the market for safer alternatives and the companies already working to adapt to the aims of the Chemicals Strategy.

While some refer to uncertain times and urge for a moratorium for changes initiated by the Green Deal and the Chemicals Strategy, we instead see possibilities. This is the time to make necessary shifts to stay ahead of other markets. To echo what you said in your State of the Union speech last week; “We need to invest sustainably and invest in sustainability”.

By going forward with the agenda set out in the Green Deal, we would secure EU competitiveness and resilience for decades to come rather than just providing industry with some momentary band aids to cope with the current situation.

“Dear Mrs. von der Leyen, we urge you to stay committed to the green transition”

Not moving forward as planned could lead to events such as “Dieselgate” where other markets move ahead, leaving European industry behind. Another clear example is the PFAS scandal in the heart of Europe that led to irreversible contamination of soil and water and long-term health effects for the people living nearby.

Anne-Sofie BäckarExecutive Director, ChemSec