Uutinen 27.1.2004

Helsinki to get EU Chemicals Agency (VN)

The extraordinary meeting of the European Council that convened in Brussels on December 13 decided on the locations of ten EU agencies, including the Chemicals Agency which will go to Helsinki.

The agency will commence operations once the EU regulation on overhauling the chemicals legislation has been enacted. A proposal for this was issued on October 29 and it is expected to take about two years for it to be dealt with in the Council and the European Parliament.

The Chemicals Agency is being set up to run the new EU chemicals monitoring system which will include registration, evaluation and authorisation procedures. The agency’s field of operations will cover all chemicals that are not separately monitored under other special legislation, such as foods, pharmaceuticals and pesticides, all of which have their own monitoring systems. The Chemicals Agency’s field will include all other chemical preparations from basic chemicals to the numerous chemicals used in industry, plus consumer products such as paints, adhesives and cleaning agents. During the preliminary stages, the agency will have to go through the registration of around 30,000 chemicals, which is expected to take roughly ten years.

The Chemicals Agency will assess the dangers inherent in different substances in conjunction with the competent authorities in each of the Member States, taking into account the potential dangers to health, environmental risks and risks of accidents.

The chemicals regulation now under consideration – the REACH Regulation – will replace some 40 separate instruments. The new legislation is an important factor in advancing European environmental protection and in taking care of the health of Europeans. Top-class chemicals legislation will improve the operation of EU internal markets and promote European competitiveness.

The Chemicals Agency will commence operations in a couple of years’ time and will employ some 200 people from all over the EU area. At the preliminary stage, the agency budget will be about 30 million euros a year. The agency will be responsible for running the monitoring system by distributing technical, scientific and management support to the Member States. The agency will not be carrying out any actual laboratory work itself, but the most important part of its operations will cover committees and working groups made up of experts in specialist fields from all the EU Member States.

The Chemicals Agency will choose its own premises in Helsinki and pay for them itself. The Government intends to continue the cooperation with the City of Helsinki and the University of Helsinki begun during the project to bring the Food Safety Agency to Finland, over premises and other issues related to the project.

Further information: Antti Peltomäki, State Secretary for EU Affairs, tel. +358 9 1602 2180, or Jyri Ollila, tel. +358 9 1602 2153, Government Secretariat for EU Affairs

Government Information Unit Press release 375/2003