Environmental Leadership: A Reference Handbook pages:782-791
This chapter focuses on the environmental leadership of the European Union (EU) through its pioneering chemicals policy. Leadership through pioneering policy can be broken into its two necessary elements: the pioneering policy itself and the leadership that results from the effects this policy exerts on other actors and jurisdictions. The first prerequisite is hence the introduction of a policy with pioneering characteristics. These pioneering characteristics can be new and innovative approaches or provisions that go beyond existing policy with their ambition, scope, or requirements. Pioneering characteristics could be the entry into new policy areas, the application of new policy instruments, the creation of new institutions, or the raising of the level of ambition toward stricter environmental standards. The second prerequisite is that the pioneering policy affects other jurisdictions and influences the adoption of similar policies. This can lead to policy convergence among a larger group of jurisdictions or even globally. The fact that other jurisdictions follow makes the pioneer a leader.
This chapter concentrates on the EU Regulation No. 1907/2006 concerning the Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (REACH). REACH was introduced in response to a number of shortcomings of prior EU chemicals governance. It establishes a new and innovative system of addressing chemicals management yet is based on the previous system. This chapter first discusses the shortcomings of pre-REACH European chemicals policy to understand and contrast the new and innovative elements that REACH introduces. Furthermore, many non-EU countries that may consider following the EU leadership face similar policy shortcomings. This chapter then elaborates how the REACH regulation addresses these shortcomings through provisions with pioneering characteristics. Third, this chapter provides a brief overview of the emerging global effects of REACH, which provides evidence that the EU is a leader in global chemicals policy.