EU set to launch ‘enfometer’ measuring chemicals enforcement

The European Commission is preparing to launch its first EU-wide indicator to measure the level of enforcement of REACH and CLP. Speaking at a Commission conference on enforcement in Brussels on 13 November, DG Grow policy officer Miguel Aguado-Monsonet said the so-called “enfometer” had been developed over the last three years and would be available to public “in a few weeks”. It is one of several steps the Commission is working on to strengthen chemicals enforcement, which has been identified as a REACH area in need of improvement. The “pioneering” benchmark will combine 50 indicators on different aspects of enforcement gathered from member states, ECHA’s Enforcement Forum and EU authorities to calculate average compliance for the whole of the European Union, Mr Aguado-Monsonet said. Enforcement will be tracked on an annual basis with the year 2010 used as a baseline, he said. The final average for each year will incorporate 11 EU-wide indicators that will consider aspects of enforcement, such as:

  • level of penalties compared with compliance cost;
  • training for inspectors;
  • outcome of appeals to determine whether enforcement actions are correct;
  • the forum’s output; and
  • complaints from stakeholders against enforcement.

Work on the process to calculate enforcement indicators at EU-level began in 2015. At that time, around 2,000 pieces of data collected from 31 countries enforcing REACH and CLP pointed to an average degree of compliance of 80% across the EU. However, the figure was pushed higher as enforcers focused on likely cases of non-compliance. Member states have expressed concerns around using inspection numbers as a league table, stressing the need “to be clear on what those numbers mean”. Mr Aguado-Monsonet said developing a single indicator for chemicals enforcement in the EU “is a complex task” considering the multiple actors, duty-holders and actions involved. “It is a first attempt,” he told the conference and “we still need to think about how we can calculate this better.”

Other measures

The Commission is trying to tackle enforcement on several fronts, with a view to improving and harmonising activities across the EU. Member states are reporting on their enforcement strategies every five years and the number of strategies they implemented has increased to 21 in 2015 from 17 in 2010, Mr Aguado-Monsonet said. The next reporting period will be 2020. The Commission has also embarked on an exchange programme for inspectors from different member states. In the past year, 13 such inspector exchanges were put in place, he added. Another level of work concerns integrating REACH into the customs procedures, Mr Aguado-Monsonet said. The Commission is exploring developing guidance and risk profiles for customs authorities, while the forum is working on “comparable parameters”. Enhanced enforcement is one 16 actions the Commission called for following its second review of REACH earlier this year. As part of this, it asked for measures to clarify and enhance the role of enforcement and customs authorities in controlling REACH obligations, and requested the Forum and member states to establish comparable parameters. Cefic’s REACH director Erwin Annys told the conference in Brussels that divergent EU penalties for infringements of chemicals laws are granting non-EU manufacturers opportunities to market their substances illegally.

Chemical Watch, 26 November 2018 ;