Business leaders are calling for a 12-month postponement on a little known piece of European Union legislation which they say could cause severe disruption to firms.
Birmingham Chamber of Commerce Group says that REACH (The Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) legislation will have an impact on almost all UK business sectors.
The legislation requires that users of certain chemicals must register them with EU officials and could cost businesses as much as £8.6 billion over an 11-year period. Each registration can cost 180,000 euros.
Of 4,700 chemicals that have to be registered by November 30, only 2,200 have been reported so far. However, as many businesses rely directly or indirectly on products that require chemicals, the impact of the legislation will be huge.
Ross Gurdin, policy advisor at Birmingham Chamber Group, said: “Many businesses, including paint, cleaning services, ink, clothing, plastic goods, dry cleaning, food preparation, aerospace industry and those further down the supply chain will all be hurt by this piece of legislation.”
Birmingham Chamber member and Managing Director of EC Williams, Henrik Skouby, said: “It is a very worrying scenario as we are very much in the dark as to what the future holds.
“Our industry (surface coatings) hopes that the EU will take a more pragmatic view and will allow a 12-month period of grace. If this does not happen there is a real danger that much high value engineering will move outside the EU to countries which can deliver the coatings that our aerospace and automotive industries rely on.”
Paul Wynn, Chamber member and Director of Public Relations for The Institute of Metal Finishing, said: “Since other parts of the industrial world have not adopted the same legislative approach, it risks reducing the effectiveness of European firms to compete with other businesses who operate outside the EU zone.”
The Chamber is urging businesses that fear they might be affected, to contact Enterprise Europe Network, part of Birmingham Chamber Group on tel. no. 0121 454 6171 for more information.