The European Commission formally issued its much-criticized REACH chemicals-registration proposal, a sweeping measure that goes before the European Parliament and EU government ministers for ratification.

The proposal includes some modifications designed to make the program more "business friendly," but industry groups were quick to launch new attacks.

The American Chemistry Council (ACC) said the European Commission "failed to design a regulatory framework that would minimize the negative impact on chemical makers and consumer-product companies and meet stated public health and environmental objectives."

The ACC said the EC ignored the views of industry, and the group's president and CEO, Greg Lebedev, said a "few tweaks do not change a fundamentally flawed proposal." Lebedev said the proposal may be at odds with World Trade Organization (WTO) rules, particularly with regard to finished goods made with chemicals. He also warned that the EC may seek to export the REACH concept overseas, and said the "world doesn't want or need European regulatory colonialism."

The ACC joined the leaders of France, Germany and the UK, as well as European chemical makers, in calling for a study to determine the broad impact of the REACH proposal.

REACH, which stands for Registration, Evaluation and Authorization of Chemicals, will require registration of all chemicals produced in or imported into the EU in quantities of at least one metric ton per manufacturer or importer per year. Producers will be required to submit a description of the hazards of each substance, its intended use and details of the risks it poses to people and the environment.

The European Commission said it anticipates that registration will be necessary for approximately 80% of all substances. The final proposal requires less extensive data and no chemical safety report on chemicals produced in volumes of up to 10 mt a year, a change that will reduce the rule's requirements for 20,000 of the 30,000 chemicals likely to be affected.

Exemptions to the rule's provisions include polymers, defined as chemical chains of smaller "building-block" monomers. Intermediates - chemicals used in industrial processes to make other chemicals - will also be subject to simpler regulations than most other chemicals. "Articles" - finished products such as electrical goods or textiles - would be subject to REACH only if the chemicals they contain are "intended to be released" during use.