The EU Chemicals Strategy was published in October 2020 and the Environment Ministers adopted the respective Council Conclusions in March this year in order to eliminate the most dangerous chemicals, ensure long-term sustainability in this area and strengthen the competitiveness of the European chemical industry. It is a key document that has been welcomed by all stakeholders. It was the implementation of this strategy that was the main topic of the High Level Roundtable on the Chemical Strategy for Sustainability, which met for the first time on 5 May under the chairmanship of the Commissioner for the Environment, Oceans and Fisheries, Virginijus Sinkevičius and the Commissioner for Internal Market, Thierry Breton.
As for the RECETOX, it is represented by Mrs. Kateřina Šebková, Ph.D., M.A., who has long supported and promoted the greatest possible use of scientific knowledge in the formulation of policies in the field of chemicals. RECETOX is a clear Central European leader in this area: as the Regional Centre of the Stockholm Convention, it supports its implementation in the states of the former Soviet bloc and within the EU is an important partner for European projects in the field of chemicals. Whether it is the European Initiative for Human Biomonitoring (HBM4EU) or the forthcoming EU Partnership for Chemical Risk Assessment (PARC), RECETOX, with its long-term focus on chemicals research, will contribute to the European debate on sustainability in this area.
Solutions long overdue
And why is the EU's chemicals sustainability strategy so important? The main reason is its focus on new challenges, the solution of which has long been delayed at European level. One of them is the regulation of endocrine disruptors, addressing the regulation of chemical mixtures (exposure factors, substance evaluation), expanding the range of information available on chemicals or the topic closest to RECETOX, namely improving the use of data from scientific projects, harmonization of data and making them available to a wider audience in the framework of building pan-European data and knowledge infrastructures. The second pillar of the strategy is the transition of the chemical industry to substances that are more environmentally friendly and safer for human health while maintaining industry competitiveness and achieving other EU Green Agreement priorities - promoting climate neutrality, increasing digital transition and the transition to a circular economy.
The meeting was opened by Commissioner Sinkevičius. He emphasized the need for a similar forum, as implementing the EU chemical sustainability strategy is a major challenge for the whole Union. He said that this first meeting, which took place through both live inputs and chat discussions, should serve to acquaint individual members and that he hoped to be able to welcome everyone next time in Brussels. As stated in its mandate, the group is an advisory body to help the European Commission propose the best possible measures to achieve the strategy's objectives. The Commission will prepare a draft calendar and format for the negotiations by the summer and the next meeting will take place in September 2021.
What are further RECETOX´s priorities?
Kateřina Šebková says about the first meeting: “We appreciate that we were selected for the group, but the online format is not suitable for such a meeting. Even so, a number of interesting proposals were made at the meeting, which we can focus on in the next negotiations and discuss in detail. However, such a discussion will probably take place in a different format than in the plenary session during which the time for one presentation is limited to 2-3 minutes. I believe that the role of science in this group, but also in general, is to be impartial and factual and to provide facts on the basis of which the benefits and risks are assessed. Topics that we would like to emphasize from our point of view are access to/transparency of information on the chemicals we produce, innovation of control mechanisms that we have available for the supervision of chemical strategy by responsible authorities (inspections, ministries), development oriented research, including the creation of collaborative and supportive pan-European infrastructures for the risk generation of new generation chemicals and their cooperation, and the existence of thematic but interdisciplinary international networks between educational institutions and the permeability of their educational programs. "
You will be able to read the full text of RECETOX's comments on the negotiating documents in English after its publication on this link.
 The round table has 32 members, who were selected from a total of 116 candidates. Industry and trade unions and NGOs each have 10 representatives, scientific societies, research institutions and universities have 8 representatives, 3 representatives have international organizations (OECD, WHO and UNEP) and a round table is also attended by a representative of the country holding the EU presidency. A list of members as well as further information is available on the EC website: https://ec.europa.eu/transparency/expert-groups-register/screen/expert-groups/consult?do=groupDetail.groupDetail&groupID=3757&fbclid=IwAR3aI0d7PU-mXeQZIB_TvrALoNHax8P3js21fABW6-zDn8wr3wzCTrYtMng