SNP MEP's Comment On "Inadequate" Chemicals Compromise

17 November 2005
"Not good enough for Scotland's people, so not good enough for the SNP"

SNP President Ian Hudghton MEP and European Spokesman Alyn Smith have today voted on the complex compromise reached by the European Parliament on the European Commission's REACH Chemicals proposals.

After one of the most complicated votes in the history of the Parliament, a compromise package was eventually adopted which sees some elements of the original Commission proposal remain, though lost many key elements.

The SNP MEPs voted against the eventual proposal on the grounds that it did not go far enough in areas like animal tests and consumer protection. The Parliament adopted the package which now goes to the Council of Ministers for further consideration and will in due course come back to the European Parliament for further consideration at Second Reading.

Speaking after the vote, Ian Hudghton MEP said:

"SNP MEPs have taken a strong lead on this controversial issue, and made clear in advance of this plenary vote that we regarded our Environment Committee opinion as an acceptable compromise, and we would accept nothing less in the Plenary outcome.

"Regrettably, in today's vote, we have seen a watering down of key aspects of REACH and could not give our support to the 1st reading package".

Alyn Smith MEP added:

"The final result did have some steps forward, but was inadequate, and we could not in all conscience accept such a watered down compromise. I would have liked to see a lot more backing from the Parliament on issues like avoiding animal testing. The registration procedures for chemicals as now agreed are much weaker than they should be. The vote today was of course only the first reading of the proposals, so they will in due course come back to the Parliament where we will try to strengthen them again.

"I only hope that the Council of Ministers, under the Presidency held by the UK government, will take note of the calls from within the Parliament for a stronger package, and not try to water it down still further.

"Ian and I have been contacted by literally hundreds of Scots concerned about chemicals in all our daily lives. They look to the European Parliament to protect them from harmful chemicals, and today we have at least made some progress, but they are not good enough for Scotland's people, so not good enough for the SNP.

"The REACH story is not over yet, and now we must ensure the Council of Ministers lives up to even this limited progress."