For the first time ever, an authorisation could be rejected in the EU
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For the first time ever, an authorisation could be rejected in the EU

Yesterday, the European Parliament Environment Committee voted in favour of a resolution against the draft decision from the EU Commission to grant an authorisation for using sodium dichromate, which is classified as cancerogenic, mutagenic and toxic for reproduction.

The application for authorisation was submitted by the Italian company Ilario Ormezzano Sai with the intention of continuing to use this chemical for dyeing of wool.

REACH regulation clearly states that no authorisation should be granted if there are alternatives available on the market.

In this case, alternatives are, however, readily available, comparable in cost and performance and, actually, used by the majority of wool houses in the European Union.

“To us, it is clear that authorisation should not be granted since the majority of wool houses in Europe do not use this hazardous substance anymore”, says Frida Hök, Senior Policy Advisor at ChemSec.

“To us, it is clear that authorisation should not be granted”

Up until now, the application had been recommended a seven-year authorisation period from ECHA Committees; RAC and SEAC. SEAC assesses the socio-economic factors and the availability, suitability and technical feasibility of the alternatives when an application for authorisation is submitted.

The EU Commission has in its draft decision changed the authorisation period to four years, which indicates that they recognise the existence of available alternatives.

“This case shows that a political discussion about the role and work of the SEAC Committee is greatly needed. It is also necessary to change the way alternatives are found and evaluated in the authorisation process as a whole”, Frida Hök argues.

In the authorisation process, normal procedure is that ECHA forms an opinion which they then share with the EU Commission who, in turn, makes a proposal for a decision based on ECHA’s opinion.

This proposal is then put forward to the REACH Committee who discusses the issue and votes on it.

“We hope that the Commission, for the first time, will reject an application for authorisation”

However, the European Parliament has the possibility to give thumbs down to the proposal from the EU Commission and vote on a resolution to reject it. This has only been done once before in authorisation cases. Until yesterday.

“We are very happy to see this resolution now being adopted by the ENVI Committee in the European Parliament. We now hope that the Commission, for the first time, will reject an application for authorisation due to available alternatives”, Frida Hök concludes.

The next step will be for the European Parliament to vote on the issue in plenary next week, and then for the REACH Committee to discuss and possibly vote on the case at their next meeting in early December.