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REACH implementation and impact on defence discussed

At today’s 13th EDA REACH plenary meeting, experts from the Ministries of Defence of participating Member States exchanged views with representatives of the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Space Agency (ESA), national space agencies as well as the European defence industry on the latest developments regarding the implementation of the European Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH) and other relevant EU regulations on chemicals and waste regulations in the defence domain. 

The main aim of the meeting was to jointly explore ways and means to meet the objectives of these EU regulations and ensure their coherent application in the defence sector while, at the same time,  mitigate their possible impact on the operational capabilities of participating Member States’ Armed Forces and the competitiveness and innovation of the EU defence industry, as an important stakeholder in support of European defence capabilities. The discussions were based on EDA’s ongoing activities in the area of REACH and other relevant EU chemicals and waste regulations, as well as recent regulatory developments at European level such as the EU Green Deal  and EU Chemical Strategy for Sustainability towards a toxic-free environment.

The European defence industry was represented at the meeting by some 70  representatives from a wide range of stakeholders with expertise/activities in the area of REACH and other relevant EU chemicals and waste regulations such as the Aerospace and Defence Industries Association of Europe (ASD), National Defence Industry Associations (NDIAs), individual industries, research and technology organisations, and academia. 

The main conclusion of the debate was that, while EDA participating Member States and the EU defence industry strongly support the implementation of REACH in the defence domain (for its positive effects on human health and the environment), it is crucial to ensure that potential negative impacts of its implementation on defence are identified at an early stage in order to be mitigated appropriately. To this end, EDA’s work on REACH is considered very important.


EDA is addressing REACH and its defence implications since 2009, at the request of its participating Member States and in close coordination with the European Commission. 
The Agency’s work in this field was guided until recently by the EDA REACH Roadmap 2018-2020  which was adopted by Member States in October 2017 and contained a comprehensive list of activities, the majority of which have recently been successfully completed, or are continuous in nature. 

A follow-up EDA REACH Roadmap for years 2021-2023 is currently in the last stages of approval by EDA participating Member States. In addition to REACH, this roadmap also covers activities related to other relevant EU chemicals and waste regulations, on the basis also of the outcome of a recent EDA study.

EDA closely engages with and regularly invites key stakeholders to EDA REACH meetings, such as the European Commission, the European Chemicals Agency, the European Space Agency and (under the overarching comprehensive EDA approach on industry engagement) EU defence industry, in order to facilitate closer and more transparent interaction on defence-related REACH issues, which is seen as an important success factor for EDA’s work in this field. 

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