Five Regulatory Lessons from REACH

26 Pages Posted: 16 Nov 2008

See all articles by Daniel A. Farber

Daniel A. Farber

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law

Date Written: November 13, 2008


The EU REACH directive was enacted at the end of 2006. It contains perhaps the most rigorous testing requirements of any regulatory regime in the world. It also requires registration of all existing and new chemicals produced or imported in volumes of a ton or more per year per manufacturer or importer. This Directive promises to transform the legal context of the chemical industry.

This essay begins by discussing the difficulty of risk assessment and the very mixed record of the United States in regulating toxics. It then discusses the directive in more detail. Finally, the article suggests that five lessons can be drawn from REACH: (1) the potential for international learning, which allowed the EU to benefit from its own experiences as well as the American struggles with toxic regulation; (2) the power of "next generation" environmental policies to mold industry behavior; (3) the need to attack the "tyranny of the status quo" rather than granting permanent regulatory exemptions to existing products and facilities, (4) the need for open governance in crafting far-reaching regulatory changes; and (5) the advantages of using supply-chain leverage to broaden the impact and effectiveness of regulation.

Keywords: European Union, toxic chemicals, REACH, regulatory mechanisms, supply chain

Suggested Citation

Farber, Daniel A., Five Regulatory Lessons from REACH (November 13, 2008). UC Berkeley Public Law Research Paper No. 1301306. Available at SSRN: or

Daniel A. Farber (Contact Author)

University of California, Berkeley - School of Law ( email )

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