Samuel Lowenberg - Independent Journalist biography articles articles

U.S. Lobbying Pays Off in Europe

National Journal  Nobember 15, 2003


After heavy lobbying by the chemical industry and the U.S. government, the European Commission, which is the European Union's bureaucracy, substantially scaled back a proposal that would have required chemical makers to perform safety and environmental impact tests on their 30,000 most-commonly produced chemicals.

A new draft of the E.U. plan released two weeks ago requires extensive testing on only about one-third the number of chemicals originally included; it would mandate less-extensive testing on the 20,000 other chemicals that are produced in smaller amounts. The new draft also softens disclosure requirements on manufacturers. European and American chemical firms complained that the original plan would have cost their industry as much as $12 billion. In the new draft, the estimated cost to industry is $2.3 billion.

The U.S. government weighed in heavily, according to interviews with American officials and industry lobbyists. American ambassadors in some E.U. member states pressed the message that the testing regime was expensive and unworkable. Officials at the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency promoted an American-style voluntary testing program, while Commerce Department officials hinted at a trade war.

The Bush administration mobilized U.S. businesses, and trading partners Canada, Japan, and Taiwan, to weigh in on the legislation, sources said. Environmental activists say they are optimistic that the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers will restore many of the cuts when the two E.U. bodies take up the legislation next year.

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