November 1, 2023: A decision on controversial proposals for lead metal to be added to an expanded European chemicals authorization register is set to be shelved until late 2024 at the earliest, Batteries International has learned.
Battery industry leaders have been in talks with European Commission officials since the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) revealed its proposals in April.
ECHA has suggested adding lead and seven other substances to its REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) list — indicating that the substance would eventually be substituted and could only be used in the meantime with specific permission from the Commission.
Informed sources told Batteries International on the sidelines of the ILA’s Pb 2023 conference in Athens in June that, privately, Commission chiefs had indicated there was “no appetite” for the move — for the time being — not least because it would trigger a huge administrative burden as thousands of applications would flood in and risk clogging up the regulatory process.
EU insiders have since told Batteries International the revisions are highly unlikely to be considered before next June’s European Parliament elections — or before the subsequent formation of a new Commission.
The composition of the next European Parliament is likely to reflect the general drift to the right in European politics over the past couple of years. Typically right-wing politicians are less concerned about environmental issues than those on the other side of the political spectrum.
Senior Commission figures have failed to mention the issue when outlining legislative proposals to be dealt with before the current Commission’s term of office expires next October, according to global law firm Squire Patton Boggs.
A spokesperson for Commission VP and batteries czar Maroš Šefčovič had not responded to a request for comment at the time of going to press.