The German REACH Congress 2016: a workshop report
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In October 2016, the German REACH Congress was held at the German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) in Berlin. Here, the associated improvement made in the fields of consumer protection and the progress in and experiences gained from the implementation of the authorisation procedure were discussed. Several speakers from EU institutions, German authorities, industry, and civil society organisations were invited to present their views. There was a shared consensus that REACH contributes to the advancement of consumer protection against chemical risks, mainly because more and higher quality information on substance-related hazards and potential exposures becomes available. In addition, risk management measures, particularly regarding restrictions on uses, scale down consumer exposures to chemicals. Opportunities for improvements identified at the congress include the quality of registration dossiers and the management of and communication on substances of very high concern (SVHC) that may be present in consumer articles. Although regarded as being in an early implementation phase, the authorisation process was generally found to be operational and progressing well. Criticism was expressed with regard to the consistency of authorisation decisions and the costs and uncertainties related to authorisation applications. Consumer protection legislation consists of several legal provisions which are interlinked. The congress participants agreed that REACH is an important element of this legal framework as it enhances and complements other legal provisions.