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New EU Regulation for Export and Import of Hazardous Chemicals Comes Into Effect

New rules concerning the export and import of very hazardous chemicals will be implemented in the EU from March 1, 2014. The revised Prior Informed Consent (PIC) Regulation comes into effect, regulating the trade of very hazardous chemicals between the European Union and third countries, and implementing the global Rotterdam Convention within the EU.

The European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) will take over the administrative and technical responsibility from the Joint Research Centre of the European Commission and from March 1, they will start processing industry’s export notifications and explicit consents. The existing European Database of Export and Import of Dangerous Chemicals (EDEXIM) will continue to be used for now.

Export of very hazardous chemicals cannot take place until the receiving country has been informed and in some cases, an ‘explicit consent’ is needed from the importing country. The objective is to promote shared responsibility and cooperation in the international trade of very hazardous chemicals, and to protect human health and the environment by giving information to the receiving countries on how to store, transport, use and dispose of such chemicals safely.

The new regulation is consistent with the REACH (registration, evaluation and authorization of substances of very high concern (SVHCs)) and Classification, Labeling and Packaging (CLP) regulations. It also follows the Globally Harmonized System of classification and labeling. It introduces fixed timelines for all actors to perform their tasks, whereas the previous regulation had different deadlines for first time exports and exports that have previously taken place. ECHA now takes responsibility for the technical and administrative aspects of PIC while the policy responsibility remains with the Directorate-General for the Environment at the European Commission.

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