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Further Topics Switzerland-EU

REACH: Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals

The Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) came into force in the EU in 2007. This has the aim of ensuring a better protection of human health and the environment from the possible risks that can be posed by chemicals, and to promote innovations. For this purpose manufacturers are increasingly responsible in the sense of the principle "no data, no market". The requirements for the manufacture, marketing and handling of chemicals are fundamentally changed with REACH.

Since REACH came into force in the EU, there exist differences between the Swiss chemical law and the new regulations for chemicals in the EU. This has resulted in trade barriers due to complex certification and registration requirements in the EU. Furthermore, in the medium term the level of protection for human health and the environment in Switzerland will lag behind that of the EU. A parallel implementation with its own agency in Switzerland would not make much sense and would lead to extensive duplication. An impact assessment of regulations (2007) showed that before implementing changes to the law, further fundamental clarifications of the advantages and disadvantages of a (partial) adoption of REACH in Switzerland are needed.

CLP: Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures

CLP is the Regulation on classification, labelling and packaging of substances and mixtures (CLP: Classification, Labelling and Packaging). The main objectives of CLP are to facilitate the international trade of chemicals and to safeguard the existing level of protection for human health and the environment. It is based on the system compiled by the UN for the hazard classification and labelling of chemicals (GHS: Globally Harmonised System) that can be employed in the most diverse areas (consumer protection, employee protection, protection of the environment, transport). As of January 2009, chemicals labelled according to GHS can be commercialised in Europe. In the EU, GHS will be binding for substances by 2010 and for mixtures by 2015. The current EU level of protection will not be affected by the implementation of GHS.

Since February 2009 (2nd revision of the Ordinance on Chemical Products Chem V), Swiss manufacturers can already optionally classify, label and package their chemical products destined for professional customers according to the guidelines of the EU CLP Regulation. The simultaneous application ensures that chemical products with GHS-labels (substances/commercial mixtures) are also permitted in Switzerland.

On the 29 October 2008, the Federal Council decided to examine the possibilities of a collaboration with the EU in the chemical products sector and the necessary adjustments of the Swiss law. Here, the objective is to remove barriers to trade, which particularly affect SMEs, and to ensure the level of protection for human health and the environment. For this purpose, it charged the FDHA, DETEC as well as FDFA and FDEA to take up exploratory discussions with the EU and to evaluate the possibilities and framework conditions for a collaboration with the EU, namely the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) in Helsinki in the sector control of chemical products. The following will be clarified:

  • the modalities of an agreement with the EU;
  • whether full alignment to REACH is an absolute requisite;
  • the market access conditions for Swiss exports and
  • the costs.

A report based on these discussions will be submitted to the Federal Council, who will decide on future action.


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Author: Abteilung Internationales

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