Brexit – What you need to know!
If you haven’t yet started reviewing the potential impacts your company may face due to the UK withdrawal from the EU, we recommend there is no time like the present.
The task is to review all the chemical products you are buying and identify where they are coming from. You may buy from an Irish Supplier, but the Irish supplier may purchase direct from the UK.
Are you a chemical supplier or downstream user based in Ireland? If so, the upcoming Brexit deal may have serious implications for you and your employees.
The main legislation you will hear mentioned over the next couple of weeks is the REACH Regulation or the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals Regulation EC No. 1907/2006 which came into force in order to improve the protection of human health and the environment whilst fostering competitiveness and trade.
Most elements of REACH will be impacted by Brexit, especially in the case of a no-deal scenario. The key areas of concern for Irish organisations will be the registration and authorisation of chemicals we intend to bring into Ireland.
The REACH Regulations stipulates the requirement to register any substances manufactured in EU, or imported into EU at quantities greater than 1 tonne per annum. There are currently over 12,000 registrations held by less than 2000 companies in the UK. A vast number of Irish companies are currently piggybacking on these UK registrations for their own supply of chemicals.
After Brexit has taken place, the UK will become a non-EU company or third country and all registrations will become non-existent. This means that if you are an Irish company and you buy chemicals from a UK supplier your role under REACH will change from a downstream user to an importer and you may be required to register your substance(s) with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA).
You have a number of options available to you to ensure continued compliance with REACH. You can:
- Laise with your UK supplier to determine if they plan on moving their registrations to an EU-27 country;
- Find an alternative EU-27 supplier;
- Become an importer and register any substances imported over 1 tonne per annum.
Annex XIV of REACH identifies a number of substances which manufacturers, importers or downstream users cannot place on the market for supply or internal use after a sunset or final date unless authorisation has been granted by ECHA.
During the authorisation process, a company can be granted authorisation for themselves and for their downstream users. In some cases, UK based companies have been granted authorisations and Irish companies have been covered by these authorisations. After Brexit, the authorisations held by UK companies will no longer exist.
Again, you have a number of options if this affects you:
- Apply for authorisation yourself;
- Find an alternative EU-27 supplier with an authorisation granted;
- Contact the UK manufacturer to determine if they have transferred their authorisation to and EU-27 country.
If you continue to buy chemicals from the UK, there are a number of obligations you need to adhere to, as you would with all third countries:
- Register chemicals imported in quantities over 1 tonne per annum.
- Supply safety data sheets (SDSs) in compliance with REACH, for all hazardous chemicals placed on the market including for your own use.
- Contact and notify the Irish National Poison Centre regarding the use of their emergency number in Section 1.4 of the SDSs, where appropriate.
- Review Annex XIV (Authorisation list) and ban the importation of these past the sunset date.
- Adhere to Annex XVII (Restricted list) by using chemicals only under the specific conditions identified.
What you need to do to prepare for Brexit!
- Complete a full review of your current supply chain. Determine where you are buying the chemical from and the quantity you are purchasing.
- Speak to your UK suppliers to determine their post-Brexit plans.
- Determine what your role is in the supply chain. Is it possible for you to become an importer?
- Can you change your supplier to one within the EU-27?
It is never too late to start your Brexit preparations.
It is important to note that this is a general overview; each situation is complex and must be considered on a case by case basis. In addition, chemical regulations within Europe don’t end with REACH; you may also need to consider CLP, Biocides etc.
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