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Article related to: News from ECHA
Croatia – a fast learning curve
Croatia became a Member of the European Union in July 2013, but preparations for accession started years before that. ECHA Newsletter spoke with Ms Dubravka Marija Kreković, the Senior State Sanitary Inspector at the Ministry of Health in Croatia, to hear how REACH is being enforced and how the cooperation with the Member States helped Croatia to adjust to the new legal framework.
"Before entering into the EU, we invested a lot of time in educating our inspectors so that they would be prepared for the new requirements and tools," Ms Kreković explained. As part of these efforts, the inspectors were informed about the tools and guidance available after accession to the EU. After joining the EU, they were also trained on how to access and use the information available in the REACH Information Portal for Enforcement (RIPE).
"We also prepared check lists to help our inspectors make sure that all necessary checks are carried out during the inspection. A separate check list was also prepared for required information in the safety data sheets (SDSs)," Ms Kreković says. Inspections do not only relate to REACH requirements but also check that companies comply with the CLP Regulation and have labelled their mixtures correctly.
|Ms Dubravka Marija Kreković.|
Support received prior to accession
Ms Kreković is very happy with the support that they received from ECHA and the EU Member States through the EU Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA) project. "For a small Member State, it is very important to see how other countries have organised their activities. As a beneficiary of the IPA project, we had the opportunity to make study visits to EU Member States to see how their competent authorities and national enforcement authorities were working."
The opportunity to create networks with other countries has been one of the great advantages of the project. "We have had a lot of cooperation, for example, with Slovenia and that has continued also after the IPA project. Slovenia is a small Member State just like Croatia and many of the challenges we face are similar," Ms Kreković says. Getting to know colleagues from other Member States before entering into the EU has also made cooperation after accession easier.
"In addition to practical advice, we have also received good ideas and been able to create something of our own based on examples we have seen during our study visits," Ms Kreković points out. At the moment, Croatia is developing its own IT based tool for inspections that will include for example, all regulations, check lists and documents from previous inspections. The idea for the tool came from one of the study visits in Germany. "The tool will be a great support for inspectors when they are in the field visiting companies. We are using a lot of resources for this project and we hope to have the tool ready during spring 2015," Ms Kreković says.
Educating micro companies
One of the challenges for the Croatian enforcement authorities is the lack of resources, which affects the number of inspections that can be carried out each month. "So far since accession, we have carried out approximately 15 inspections a month on companies producing and importing chemicals. Downstream users are also controlled," Ms Kreković says and continues "however, if we receive a complaint from a third party, we will make it our priority to get to the field and inspect the situation without delay."
Problems identified during the inspections are often related to safety data sheets. "In Croatia, we have a lot of micro companies – many of them only having one or two employees. It is natural that there might be a lack of information and knowledge. Therefore, the first step in our work is to advise companies and tell them what they need to do to comply with the law," Ms Kreković points out.
Learning through the Forum
Before accession, Croatia attended the meetings of the Enforcement Forum as an observer. This opportunity made it easier for Croatia to plan how to develop their enforcement activities to ensure consistent enforcement across the EU.
Ms Kreković has since then been actively involved in the work of the Forum and during 2014 she chaired one of its working groups. "A lot of practical issues are discussed during the Forum meetings, which is very useful for all participants. We can see that we all deal with the same issues and we can get support and help from each other. It is great to have this big network of experts and inspectors," she concludes.
ECHA's activities under the second IPA I project from 2012 to 2014.
Did you know?
ECHA has been helping a number of countries to prepare for Biocides, CLP, PIC and REACH since 2009: Albania, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Croatia, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Kosovo*, Montenegro, Serbia and Turkey under the EU Instrument for Pre-accession Assistance (IPA).
* This designation is without prejudice to positions on status, and is in line with UNSCR 1244/1999 and the ICJ Opinion on the Kosovo declaration of independence.
Interview by Päivi Jokiniemi
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Biocidal Products Committee:
26 February-1 March
Committee for Risk Assessment:
6-8 March and
Committee for Socio-Economic
Management Board meeting:
23-27 March (tentative)
Member State Committee:
20-24 April (tentative)