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- First four restriction reports under consultation
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Päivi Jokiniemi and Paul Trouth
Article related to: REACH
Preparing together for the 2010 deadline
The Directors Contact Group, set up to monitor industry preparedness and to resolve issues that could hinder a successful registration process, recently published the results of its work so far. They are available on ECHA's website. In the following interview, ECHA Directors Christel Musset and Andreas Herdina comment on the results.
| Christel Musset, |
Director of Registration.
Ms Musset and Mr Herdina, why was it necessary to set up this group?
Mr Herdina: ECHA, industry associations and the Commission realised at the end of last year that it would be better to prepare ourselves early in 2010 for any eventuality, instead of taking the risk of facing surprises towards the end of the registration period. It was for this reason that the Directors' Contact Group was formed, with the consent of ECHA's Management Board and under the chairmanship of the European Commission.
The Group started off by narrowing down our estimates of the possible number of dossiers and substances to be registered.
Ms Musset: Yes, both ECHA and industry associations have really made great efforts to find out which substances will actually be registered. The downstream users are quite worried in cases where their suppliers are not confirming their intention to register a substance. This is the issue we are trying to tackle now. For downstream users it is important to see on our website that the substances that are intended to be registered have their Lead Registrants in place.
This is why we have made several pleas to industry associations and to large companies, asking industry to nominate themselves as Lead Registrants. If there is a Lead Registrant associated to a substance, this shows that the SIEF is working. It gives certainty to industry and in particular to downstream users. Looking at our website at this point, it seems that there will not be any major disruption of supply.
Mr Herdina: The other major activity was for industry associations to identify issues that could be a challenge in the registration process. We then went through all the 28 issues raised by the industry associations in March, and found solutions for all of them by the end of September.
| Andreas Herdina, |
Director of Cooperation.
Were you surprised by the problems that industry reported?
Mr Herdina: ECHA had already taken decisions in relation to some of the issues, such as the decision not to introduce updates of REACH-IT at a late stage just before the registration deadline. Industry also wanted us to have a special Helpdesk service for registrants and REACH-IT available at weekends whenever there is need. These things were planned by ECHA in any event. The Directors' Contact Group could provide the comfort of knowing what our intentions were.
Ms Musset: We knew informally about industry concerns, because we are in regular contact with the associations. The Directors' Contact Group was a channelled and efficient way of discussing relevant matters with all interested parties. Some issues were not in our sole remit, and we needed to work together with the Commission to identify solutions.
Solutions were found for several exceptional cases. Do these change the legal requirements?
Mr Herdina: Evidently, everything that the Directors' Contact Group could agree had to be within the legal framework. We were able to provide solutions for companies who have done everything they can to fulfil their obligations to register but still find themselves in an unexpected and exceptional situation. The Directors' Contact Group was dedicated to facilitating the implementation of REACH, not to changing it. So, with regard to the deadline, those who snooze, lose, and that continues to be the case.
The Member State Competent Authorities went along with the approach that the Group took and were consulted once solutions had been established. As the enforcement of REACH is the sole responsibility of the Member States, we have also been keeping the Forum informed about a number of cases.
Ms Musset: Indeed it is essential that companies contact us via the DCG contact form as soon as they become aware of their situation. The fact that a company has informed ECHA about their situation and received an incident number for their communication is something that the enforcement authorities know they should be looking for. I would also like to emphasise that companies who believe themselves to be affected by these issues have to provide documentary evidence of their problem. For instance, if the Lead Registrant faces an exceptional set of circumstances before the deadline because of a merger or a change of company organisation, then the merger or acquisition must be documented.
Have we already received this kind of information? By when do companies need to submit such information to ECHA?
Ms Musset: We have had some initial contacts. Companies must send us the information and supporting documentation before they submit their registration dossier. Once we have the documentary evidence, we will explain how to indicate their situation in the registration dossier which has to be submitted within the legal deadline by 30 November. There is no way to come back to us after 1 December saying that it was not possible to submit a dossier or that information is lacking.
Who can one turn to if the solutions are not clear?
Mr Herdina: The list of solutions we provided on the ECHA website should be self-explanatory, but you can still as always get help from the national or ECHA Helpdesk. Companies who are in an exceptional situation should also consider the Note on the DCG web section which outlines a set of prerequisites and also the consequences related to the solutions.
Are you satisfied with the results? How will the work proceed?
Mr Herdina: General feedback received from industry has been that this is very useful for them. It was also important for the Commission and ECHA to have clarity on these issues. The mandate of the Group ends in March 2011. After the registration deadline the focus will be on lessons learnt from this registration deadline, with a view to the next registration period.
Ms Musset: As for the rest of the year, ECHA will continue to monitor the situation. For example, currently REACH-IT is open from Monday morning until Friday evening, also overnight, and companies have the opportunity of submitting their dossier during current working hours. If we begin to see that this is not sufficient then we will extend our opening hours.
Mr Herdina: The special service for registrants is also up and running. It is an outbound telephone service, and when it is clear that it would be more useful to telephone the registrants, this is now done.
How are the submissions of registrations going?
Ms Musset: We have had increasing success rates of dossier submission. However, these were the Lead Registrant dossiers, from large companies who already have experience of the system. Now we are starting to see dossiers from SIEF members being submitted, and obviously it is the first time that they are using REACH-IT. We are observing more problems than we did with big companies. Therefore our message is: "Register early so that we can help you and you will have the chance to re-submit your dossier quickly if necessary! The national helpdesks have been trained on all the available tools and are ready to provide help."
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26 February-1 March
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Committee for Socio-Economic
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