|BRUSSELS - Too much European Union red tape could strangle the chemical industry and result in the loss of its world dominant position which is already under threat, the sector\'s lobby group Cefic said.|
It is concerned about the draft EU environmental \'Reach\' bill where safety checks would be carried out on 30,000 commonly used chemicals that are currently exempt from monitoring.
\"The chemical substances abandoned in the expensive Reach process will be produced and used on other continents and the articles made from them imported into Europe,\" Cefic Vice-President Francois Cornelis told an industry conference.
The EU\'s plan to cut greenhouse gas emissions as part of the Kyoto Protocol is also a cause for worry which Cornelis fears could also damage competitiveness.
\"Europe should not be a place for regulatory experiments,\" Atofina (TOTF.PA: Quote, Profile, Research) Chief Executive Officer Cornelis said.
However, Cefic is hoping to further modify the European Commission\'s Reach proposal as the EU executive is set to start a review of the legislation where everybody - green groups to industry - will be able to participate.
\"The business impact study published with the proposal did not reflect the entire consequences,\" Cefic Executive Director Alain Perroy told reporters. \"It\'s still too bureaucratic.\"
He denied that the EU chemical industry which employs 1.7 million people and cornered 28 percent of the global chemicals production in 2002, worth 360 billion euros, was seeking to delay the legislation but instead, wanted to improve it.
The 15-nation bloc is currently discussing the legislation but progress is stalled because the European Parliament, which can change the proposal, is going to the polls in June.
Cefic also released a study which said the sector would be in serious difficulty by 2015 if it failed to innovate as the United States and Asia were increasing chemical production.
Europe is not producing enough scientific graduates and there is a brain drain to the States. In addition, companies are moving from Europe to Asia to benefit from lower costs.
\"Introducing a new chemical substance in Europe takes three times longer and costs 10 times more than in the U.S.,\" said Cornelius.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE