The transition period for the United Kingdom’s (UK) exit from the European Union (EU) will end on December 31, 2020. At the end of the transition period, the EU Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) regulation will be brought into UK law under the European Union (Withdrawal) Act 2018 as amended by the European Union (Withdrawal) Agreement 2020. The UK intends to replicate EU REACH, and related legislation, with the necessary changes to make it operable in context. According to the UK Health and Safety Executive (HSE), the key principles of EU REACH will be retained. The independent chemical regulatory framework that will operate in the UK from January 1, 2021, will be known as UK REACH.
HSE announced on October 21, 2020, that The REACH etc. (Amendment etc.) (EU Exit) Regulations 2020 Statutory Instrument (SI) was laid before Parliament on October 19, 2020. HSE states that the SI will:
- Help to ensure the UK meets its obligations under the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland and provide for access by Northern Irish goods to the Great Britain market;
- Extend transitional provisions for importers of substances from EU-based registrants by a further 120 days. These importers now have 300 days from January 1, 2021, to provide UK authorities with some initial information as part of a Downstream User Import Notification (DUIN); and
- Introduce a new phased approach to UK REACH data submission. Companies will now have two, four, or six years beginning after those 300 days for full registrations to be completed. These deadlines are dependent on tonnage bands and hazard profile, with the highest tonnage and most hazardous chemicals first.
Parliament will now consider the SI, with the intention that it will come into force at the end of the transition period on December 31, 2020. HSE will soon publish detailed guidance on its website, and The Acta Group (Acta®) will provide a website link as soon as the guidance becomes available.
As of January 1, 2021, UK REACH and EU REACH will operate independently from each other. Companies that supply or purchase substances, mixtures, or articles to and from the EU/European Economic Area (EEA) and the UK will need to ensure that the relevant requirements are met under both pieces of legislation.