The European Chemical Agency ( mission is to regulate the use of hazardous chemicals in Europe, in order to minimize the risks for workers and for end users.

The Agency deals with the identification of hazardous substances and operates a classification, labelling and packaging (CLP) system that is compliant with worldwide standards.

The main task of the Agency is to identify the different uses of hazardous substances in Europe and the associated volumes. This identification is based on the declarations of import or use that all industrial sectors need to report to the Agency within the framework of the REACH regulation.

The Agency can identify safety concerns about a substance and then propose to the European Commission limitations as to its use, or it can even propose to phase out the substance if there are viable alternatives. Applying for an authorization to use the substance is then required from the Commission; such authorisations are for a finite time period to enable the user to find an alternative.

The REACH process is complex and the lists of substances in the different steps of the process is regularly updated. In the case of a public consultation on a substance, the Agency opens for a short period (generally a few weeks) the possibility of commenting on the proposal for the classification of a substance.

The European coil coating industry is very responsive to the requirements of the REACH process; both providing information during the consultative stage and working to eliminate hazardous chemicals from the product. The industry has a strong track record of developing more environmentally acceptable alternatives to chemicals that have been proscribed via the REACH legislation e.g. chromium VI.