EU Makes Progress On REACH Enforcement Indicators

« Forum set for trial; member states have some concern.

The European Commission has made progress on the enforcement indicators it is developing. Speaking at Chemical Watch’s Enforcement Summit in Brussels, Miguel Aguado-Monsonet, policy officer at DG Grow, said that it appeared the process to calculate enforcement indicators at EU-level works. However he said further work is needed regarding both the data collected and calculations used.

Around 2,000 pieces of data have been collected to generate 12 EU-wide indicators from the 31 countries enforcing REACH and CLP. Some of that information has come from the REACH Article 117 reports that EU member states make every five years – the latest cycle required reports to be submitted in June this year.

According to the results, the average degree of compliance for REACH and CLP is 80 % across the EU, based on all types of inspection.

As a caveat, Mr Aguado-Monsonet said that this figure did not mean that the market is 80 % compliant, as enforcers often used intelligence to focus their activities on likely cases of non-compliance, which would push the percentage up.

Other EU indicators are:

  • penalties;
  • training; and
  • the number of complaints made against enforcement.

The Commission plans to combine the figures to come up with an overall indicator of enforcement. 2010 will be used as a base line.

It has been working with Echa’s Enforcement Forum to develop three sets of indicators. In addition to the EU-wide set, 16 have been proposed for both the Forum and for member states to use at national level.

The Forum is scheduled to discuss the indicators at its meeting in November, says its deputy chair Eugen Anwander. He expects the members to come with data to feed into the indicators to get a feel for how they would work.

He noted that some member states are cautious about the national-level indicators, adding that context will be needed to explain why figures differ between countries. For example, he said some countries do a lot of research to seek out cases of likely non-compliance before approaching companies, while others preferred to make spot checks. The data for these different approaches would probably show much higher success rates in the first case compared to the latter.

Mats Forkman, head of unit enforcement and registries at the Swedish Chemicals Agency (Kemi), said measuring the number of inspections carried out by a national enforcement authority would not necessarily show the true picture and effectiveness of the work carried out. For example, he asked, how the indicators would distinguish between inspections of “a distributor selling truckloads of chemicals … and a small newsagent.

“We want to ensure a good outcome, which is a high level of [protection for] human health and the environment. It is not about ensuring a high number of inspections. It could help but I have some concern that the numbers [set out in the indicator] will take over.”

UK Health and Safety Executive inspector Mike Potts said the indicators are “helpful”, particularly because inspectors in the UK have to report to their managers about how they conduct their work. However, he agreed there are concerns around using inspection numbers as an indicator, and that it was “important that we are clear on what those numbers mean. If I carry out 100 poor inspections or 20 good inspections – which is better?”

He said people should be aware of “exactly what the numbers mean” and not to view them as a league table.

Mr Aguado-Monsonet said that by collecting and using similar data to evaluate enforcement, the indicators aim to provide a better knowledge of REACH and CLP enforcement, and contribute to a more harmonised approach across the EU.

He said the preliminary results showed that work still needs to be done to ensure the results are robust, and further discussions are needed with the Forum, member states and within the Commission regarding the interpretation of the results.

The final results are expected to be used in the 2017 review of REACH. »


Article of Emma Chynoweth and Leigh Stringer
Indicators report :

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