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Lessons from the EU's REACH Program

  • Adam Abelkop (a1), John D. Graham (a2) and Lois R. Wise (a3)
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In the casual political rhetoric about environmental regulation, it is often claimed that the U.S. government regulates on the basis of risk while the European Union (or EU member states) regulates on the basis of hazard. The implication is that the U.S. government relies on a more rigorous, scientific process of assessment than does the EU, which allegedly helps explain why the EU is more pro-regulation than is the United States.

An alternative view, advanced originally by the late Professor Aaron Wildavsky of the University of California-Berkeley and amplified in a recent book by Professor Jonathan Wiener of Duke University, and colleagues, is that societies engage in a process of “risk selection.” What worries some societies does not worry others.

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1 Wiener, Jonathan B., Rogers, Michael D., Hammitt, James K., and Sand, Peter H. (eds), The Reality of Precaution: Comparing Risk Regulation in the United States and Europe (Washington D.C. and London: RFF Press/Earthscan 2011).

2 Ragnar E. Lofstedt, “Risk Versus Hazard: How to Regulate in the 21st Century”, in this volume, pp. 149 et sqq.

3 The European Chemicals Agency has published twenty-four guidance documents to assist regulated parties on compliance with each of the various aspects of REACH. They are available on the Internet at <http://guidance.echa.europa.eu/guidance_en.htm>.

4 See European Chemicals Agency, “Guidance on Registration”, Jan. 2011, available on the Internet at <http://guidance.echa.europa.eu/docs/guidance_document/registration_en.pdf?vers=31_01_11>.

5 See European Chemicals Agency, “Guidance on the Preparation of an Application for Authorization”, Jan. 2011, available on the Internet at <http://guidance.echa.europa.eu/docs/guidance_document/authorisation_application_en.pdf>.

6 See European Chemicals Agency, “Guidance on the Preparation of Socio-Economic Analysis as Part of an Application for Authorization”, Jan. 2011, available on the Internet at <http://guidance.echa.europa.eu/docs/guidance_document/sea_authorisation_en.pdf>.

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European Journal of Risk Regulation
  • ISSN: 1867-299X
  • EISSN: 2190-8249
  • URL: /core/journals/european-journal-of-risk-regulation
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