- ECHA takes on new tasks
- ECHA's second lead registrant workshop prepares industry for the 2013 registration deadline
- ECHA Guidance - Why? Who? How?
- ECHA reaches out to SMEs
- ECHA joins forces with European trade unions to promote employers' obligations under REACH
- The new biocides regulation offers new opportunities for business and industry
- PIC Regulation enters into force
- ENES discusses good practice in deriving and communicating exposure scenarios
- ECHA five years: From a start-up to a well-established authority
- More information on chemical substances to be published on ECHA's website
- Registrants play a role in the substance evaluation process
- ECHA's Management Board adopts the multi-annual work programme 2013-2015
- ECHA prepares Balkan region for EU accession
- New appointments
- ECHA welcomes Croatia
- Bjorn Hansen: "ECHA is centrally important for the EU"
- A Member State perspective: Activities for SMEs in France
- Simplifying Art. 33 (2) requests for consumers - New web tool launched in Germany
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Article related to: News from ECHA
ECHA five years: From a start-up to a well-established authority
The European Chemicals Agency was set up on 1 June 2007 in Helsinki to ensure the effective management of the REACH Regulation. In five years, the Agency has successfully managed the pre-registration phase, the first registration and classification and labelling deadlines, published safety information on registered substances and introduced new REACH processes. Along the way, ECHA has grown from 37 seconded European Commission officials to 500 statutory staff. Yet, the work continues to maintain the credibility and the leadership of REACH in the world.
2007 - SETTING UP THE AGENCY
The Agency was founded in the centre of Helsinki, in a building owned by the Finnish insurance company. A handful of experienced officials from the Commission came to Helsinki to set up the Agency and develop its processes. The Commission appointed Mr Geert Dancet as the Interim Executive Director to lead the work. Later in December, Mr Dancet was officially appointed as Executive Director by the ECHA Management Board.
Over the year, the REACH and IUCLID helpdesks were transferred from the Commission to ECHA. Guidance documents, which were prepared by the Commission and the stakeholders, were translated and published by ECHA.
The Agency also launched its website to serve as the main source of information regarding REACH and set up three Committees and the Enforcement Forum. At the end of the year, the Agency had 102 staff.
2008 - PRE-REGISTRATION
ECHA became financially indepen-dent from the European Commission on 1 January 2008 and officially joined the cluster of European Institutions and Agencies. The major challenge in the first half of the year was to get ready for the entry into operation of REACH on 1 June and support companies in applying the new regulatory procedures of the REACH Regulation.
The main activity for 2008 was to inform companies about the pre-registration period for phase-in* chemical substances. In collaboration with the Commission, ECHA launched an awareness campaign, organised its first Stakeholders' Day and published tools to support companies in their pre-registration efforts. Pre-registrations began on time, reaching a high peak in October which put pressure on the Agency, but they were successfully concluded by 1 December. A list of pre-registered substances was published in December containing more than 2.7 million pre-registrations, a number that exceeded 15 times the original estimates.
In addition, ECHA launched a public consultation on the first substan-ces proposed by Member States to be identified as substances of very high concern (SVHCs). A list of 15 substances to be included on the candidate list of substances for authorisation was unanimously approved by the Member State Committee and published at the end of October 2008.
*substances subject to transitional arrangements in the REACH registration
2009 - PREPARING FOR THE FIRST REGISTRATION DEADLINE
The year 2009 was challenging for everyone involved in REACH - industry, Member States, the European Commission and ECHA. It was a race against time to prepare for the first REACH registration and the new classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) notification deadlines. ECHA launched a campaign to assist companies in getting the substance information exchange forums (SIEFs) functioning and tidied up the list of pre-registered substances to make the SIEF groupings more useful and accurate. It also streamlined the dossier submission process and launched a technical completeness check (TCC) IT tool. The Agency's aim was to assist companies directly by organising workshops and events, contacting re-gistrants individually and running online webinars.
The public online portal of registered chemical substances was launched in December 2009 providing information on the hazards and safe use of 129 substances. By the end of year, the number of statutory staff had grown to 320.
2010 - FIRST MILESTONE
To improve efficiency in submitting and handling registrations, the dossier submission tool REACH-IT was re-engineered in 2010 to improve its functionalities. Other IT tools were developed to allow companies to compile and check their dossiers efficiently. The TCC tool proved a success: after its release in December 2009, the TCC success rate increased to above 98%.
The first landmark in the implementation of REACH was reached with the first registration deadline. By the deadline, on 30 November, ECHA had received 25 000 registration dossiers for 4 300 substances that are either commonly used in Europe or are the most hazardous. Another major achievement for the Agency was to receive over three million classification and labelling notifications from industry for over 100 000 substances that are classified and have to be labelled to protect the user.
In 2010, ECHA concluded its first cooperation agreements with third countries. A Memorandum of Understanding was signed with Environment Canada and Health Canada in May and a Statement of Intent later in the year with the US EPA Office of Pollution Prevention and Toxics. By the end of the year, the number of statutory staff had grown to 450.
2011 - FOCUS ON EVALUATION AND DISSEMINATION OF DATA
After the first registration and notification deadlines, the focus of the Agency shifted to evaluation and dissemination of the received information. In 2011, the emphasis was on examining dossiers containing proposals from companies to test substances on animals. However, unclear substance identity in many of the corresponding dossiers prevented a meaningful examination of testing proposals and forced the Agency to perform a targeted compliance check first. This almost doubled the number of planned compliance checks and slowed down the examination of testing proposals.
On the dissemination front, safety information from more than 23 000 registration dossiers covering more than 4 100 substances were made freely available through the registered substances database on ECHA's website.
The Agency also delivered its first five-year report on the operation of the REACH Regulation. The first three-year report on the status of implementation and use of non-animal test methods and testing strategies was also produced.
ECHA's organisational structure was changed at the beginning of the year to better respond to the increasing workload and the demanding scientific tasks. A more horizontal organisation with three new directorates was created. The reorganisation was complemented with the launch of a revised corporate identity and a new visual identity that highlights the service-orientation and ambitions of ECHA towards its customers. The new website showcasing the new visual identity was launched in December. At the end of the year, ECHA had 503 statutory staff members.
ECHA's ambitious vision is to become the world's leading institution on chemicals management.
2012 - REACHING MATURITY AND SETTING FUTURE PRIORITIES
ECHA has now grown to one of the largest EU regulatory agencies with an ambitious vision of becoming the world's leading institution on chemicals management. In five years, it has managed to put in place the regulatory processes introduced by the REACH and CLP Regulations. To steer the work onwards, the ECHA Management Board has prolonged the mandate of the Executive Director for another five years and agreed on four strategic long term goals to set priorities for the activities of the Agency.
The first strategic aim is to improve the quality of the data submitted by industry and published by ECHA to enable the safe manufacture and use of chemicals. The second goal is to mobilise authorities to use REACH and CLP data intelligently to identify and address chemicals of concern with the most appropriate risk management measures.
The third aim is to address the scientific challenges by serving as a hub for the scientific and regulatory capacity building of Member States, European institutions and other actors. Finally, the fourth strategic aim is to embrace current and new legislative tasks efficiently and effectively, while adapting to upcoming resource constraints.
"The achievement of the four strategic aims in the coming years is essential for the success of the entire REACH system. In order to achieve them we need to cooperate constructively with all our stakeholders", says ECHA Executive Director Geert Dancet.
Text by Hanna-Kaisa Torkkeli, from ECHA reports.
Top image: Official inauguration in June 2008. Commission President José Manuel Barroso and Vice-President Günter Verheugen handed over the list of substances considered registered under REACH at a symbolic ceremony to Geert Dancet.
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Committee for Risk Assessment:
Committee for Socio-Economic
Biocidal Products Committee:
Member State Committee:
4-8 February (tentative)
Management Board meeting: