lunes, 8 de junio de 2009

Gibberish in harmonizing GHS with 30th & 31st ATP

Today’s entry is for Elena Atienza, she wil try to explain a “gibberish”. There are many theories about where “gibberish” term comes from. One of the most spread is that the word comes from a deformation of “Gibraltar” and the “Spanglish” way of speaking typical from the Rock, as they start a sentence in English and switch in to Spanish halfway.

One of the main reasons of REACH Regulation emission was the necessity of reorder the “gibberish” created in the legal rules of chemicals, with an incongruent and enormous group of directives, regulations and decisions in complete disorder…

Well, during the last months the European Union is trying to reaffirm its own reasons because the transition between the old legislation and the new one is creating a new mess:

As almost everybody knows, Annex I of Directive 67/548/EEC relating to the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances (hereinafter “Directive 67/548/EEC”), contains a list of harmonised classifications and labellings for substances or groups of substances, which are legally binding within the European Union.

This list is regularly updated through Adaptations to Technical Progress or “ATPs”, for short. Revised and new classifications inserted to the list are proposed by The Directorate-General for the Environment (commonly referred to as “DG Environment”) and agreed by a Member State vote. The DG Environment proposal is based on advice from the Technical Committee for Classification and Labelling (also known as “TC C&L”) with participation of experts from the Member States. Their meetings are prepared, chaired and followed-up by the European Chemicals Bureau (ECB).

In this respect, the last 30th and 31st ATPs amend Annex I to Directive 67/548/EEC by introducing new and updated harmonised classifications. These ATPs have been introduced by Directive 2008/58/EC and Directive 2009/2/EC, respectively.

Since these harmonised classifications were adopted after a first reading agreement was reached on the text of the Classification, Labelling and Packaging Regulation (or Regulation (EC) Nº 1272/2008, regulation that implies an incorporation of the internationally agreed Global Harmonized System or “GHS” criteria into Community law) in June 2008, they “could” not be included in the text (Annex VI, to be precise, named as “Harmonised classification and labelling for certain hazardous substances”) of the mentioned Regulation.

For that purpose, the Commission is currently preparing a proposal for a first ATP to the GHS Regulation with a view to transferring the harmonised classifications contained in the 30th and 31st ATPs into Annex VI to the GHS Regulation. This ATP, predictably, will take the form of a Regulation and, therefore, be directly applicable throughout the European Union.

On the issue of the derogation of Annex I (and by extension deletion of the two implementing directives): Annex I is indeed deleted by Article 55 of EC Regulation 1272/2008 as of its entry into force (which was on the last 20 January 2009). This also means that the 30th and 31st ATPs, which amend Annex I, are also no longer in force.

However, the gap created by this derogation, should be short-lived. It should be filled once the 1st ATP of the GHS Regulation enters into force - hopefully by the middle of 2009 (before the compulsory entry into force of the GHS Regulation for substances, namely, 1st of December 2010).

The problem of the lack of consistency between 31st ATP and regulation 1272/2008 is coupled with the problem of the lack of transposition of the Directives 2008/58/EC and Directive 2009/2/EC into the Spanish regulation, and as is well known to everybody: a Directive is only binding on European Union member states, and cannot be enforced against individuals (or companies) until it has been transposed into the national law of the state concerned.

Anyway, in the meantime, companies should be strongly encouraged by The Basque Association of Chemical Companies, AVEQ-KIMIKA, to apply the harmonised classifications contained in the 30th and 31st ATPs for the substances not yet listed in Annex VI of the GHS Regulation.

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