The European Commission welcomes the Council’s political agreement on a comprehensive new system aimed at ensuring greater safety in the manufacture and use of chemical substances. The new system, REACH, will establish an integrated system for the registration, evaluation, authorisation and restriction of chemicals. REACH will ensure that the gaps in existing information on the hazardous properties of some 30,000 chemicals are filled and that the necessary information on the safe use of substances is transmitted along the industrial supply chain leading to reduced risks for workers, for consumers, and for the environment. REACH will reverse the burden of proof so that industry, both producers and importers of substances, rather than the public authorities, will have to assume greater responsibility for providing the necessary information and taking effective risk management measures. The formal Common Position of the Council should be approved under the Austrian Presidency in May 2006, a step that will pave the way for the second reading of the proposal by the European Parliament. Parliament adopted its first reading of REACH on 17 November.
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