The European Commission recently published the final report of the study conducted by CSES that examined the impact of the REACH Regulation on innovation. The study analysed the results of an EU-wide survey of firms and interviews with experts and national authorities and assessed the impact of various aspects of the REACH Regulation to the innovative activity and the innovative capacity of firms in the chemicals' sector (manufacturers of chemicals and chemical mixtures and their downstream users).
The study also attracted the attention of the media including a recent atricle in ENDS Europe, an EU environmental news and infomation service.
Some of the main findings of the study are:
- The regulatory burden placed on firms by the REACH Regulation tends to draw staff and funds away from more innovative work. As a result, 43% of companies think the regulation has had a negative impact on innovation while only 13% reported a positive impact so far.
- However, these appaer to be mainly short-term effects that are expected to be offset in the longer term as companies reorient their R&D and innovation programmes.
- The information creation, capture and dissemination mechanisms created by the Regulation (e.g. Registration Dossiers, Safety Data Sheets, Substance Information Exchange Fora) have acted as stimuli to product conception or innovation to varying degrees. 72% of companies thought they have led to an increase in access and scrutiny of information about chemical substances and 24% indicated that they had been able benefit from this through increased knowledge of substances and properties. However, this has come at a significant handling cost to industry.
- The entry of a substance in the candidate list for authorisation usually tends to have a positive effect to innovative activity and forces companies to consider substitutes. The community rolling action plan is also creating a similar pressure.
- The authorisation and restriction processes have had less impact so far as they have affected only very few firms.
The study makes a number of recommendations including the provision of more support at member state level, more predictability on the substances added to the candidate list and reduced obligations for smaller firms.