London — The UK’s expected withdrawal from the European Union (EU) will not lead to any major watering down of the European health and safety and environmental regulations that currently apply in the country, according to the Chemical Industries Association (CIA).
“If we want access to markets, there will have to be accepted harmonisation on a lot of regulations,” Tom Crotty, president of the association and director of chemicals giant Ineos, said at a CIA press gathering in London this week.
While the CIA had yet to formally discuss this point, Crotty said: “I would be very surprised if the UK chemical industry saw this as a great opportunity to row back on all those regulations we don’t like and say "let’s start again and tear up everything: no Reach, no Emissions Trading Scheme."
“This is not going to happen as far as we are concerned,” Crotty added.
Crotty’s views were echoed by CIA chief executive Steve Elliot, who noted that “we would have a devil of a job with companies that have already gone down the Reach registration path”.
Elliot went on to say that, based on recent soundings from in-coming UK Prime Minister Theresa May, the chemicals industry would now have a few months to determine exactly what it needs from Brexit negotiations.
The CIA, its chief executive pointed out, has already set out its priorities for such talks. These are: market access; availability of skilled labour; and access and security of affordable energy, Elliot said.
According to the latest CIA data, Europe remained the biggest export region for the UK chemicals and pharma industry, with this trade on a growth track – at least pre-Brexit.
The value of the UK chemicals and pharma exports to the EU grew 6% in the first five months of the year to around £11bn, CIA figures suggested, compared with the same period last year.
Imports were around £14.5bn, the CIA said.
By Patrick Raleigh, European Rubber Journal.