Local view for "http://purl.org/linkedpolitics/eu/plenary/2008-01-14-Speech-1-170"

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"Madam President, ladies and gentlemen, I would first of all like to thank and congratulate the European Parliament and in particular the rapporteur, Mr Blokland, the shadow rapporteurs and the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety, as well as Mrs Mann and the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy for their excellent reports and the views expressed at first reading. For the last 30 years the European Union’s policies and legislation on the protection of public health and the environment have made significant progress in reducing the risks posed by chemical substances, not only in the European Union, but also worldwide. The European Union has constantly been an important partner in international conventions, including the Rotterdam Convention on the prior informed consent procedure for certain hazardous chemicals and pesticides in international trade. Regulation 304/2003 of the European Parliament and of the Council concerning the export and import of dangerous chemicals implements the Rotterdam Convention within the Community. On many points the regulation does not stop at the provisions of the Rotterdam Convention, but goes further by offering a higher level of protection for countries that import chemicals. On 10 January 2006 the Court of Justice of the European Communities adopted a judgment annulling Regulation 304/2003 on the grounds that it should have had a dual legal basis, namely Articles 133 and 175(1) of the Treaty. In response, the aim of this proposal is to adopt a new regulation with the aforementioned dual legal basis. At the same time, the Commission, on the basis of its report on experience to date in implementing the relevant procedures, has put forward certain technical amendments to the provisions of the regulation. This report was submitted to the European Parliament and the Council at the same time as this proposal. The Commission’s main proposals for amendments to the regulation are as follows: Firstly, certain exceptions are being proposed to the central requirement for explicit consent in countries of import prior to export. These exceptions are implemented only in cases in which, despite reasonable efforts on the part of the Commission and of the national authority designated by the country of export, there is no response to the request, and provided that certain conditions are met. These exceptions are intended to create a certain degree of flexibility, while at the same time maintaining a high level of protection – one which is, indeed, higher than that provided by the Rotterdam Convention. Secondly, an exception is proposed to the requirement of explicit consent in cases where chemicals are exported to OECD countries, if certain conditions are fulfilled. Thirdly, the rules relating to the period of validity of explicit consent are clarified. In addition, explicit consents are reviewed at regular intervals, as well as in cases where alternative evidence is accepted. Fourthly, procedures and means to allow access by the customs authorities to information are laid down, since in most Member States these authorities play a principal role in ensuring compliance with the regulation, especially as regards controlling exports. Madam President, I should like to express my satisfaction with the efforts we have all made to reach agreement on this regulation at first reading. The European Commission is able to accept the compromise package of amendments in order to reach agreement at first reading."@en1

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