Product importers face new REACH Annex XIV customs obligations

Substances from Annex XVII to be included by end of year

By Luke Buxton Nov 21 2019 / Alternatives assessment & substitution, Europe, REACH, Substance notification & inventories, SVHCs

Companies importing products to the EU that contain substances from REACH Annex XIV – the authorisation list – must now provide information about these chemicals in their customs documents.

The European Commission has required them, as of 1 October, to make the notification to generate unique codes under the Taric system. 

Taric – or the Integrated Tariff of the European Communities – uses a multilingual database that integrates and codes all compliance measures relating to EU legislation across member states. The codes are designed to maximise automatic customs clearance.

The measure is part of a Commission initiative to ensure better integration of REACH in customs provisions. It also falls under REACH Review action 13 to enhance enforcement and is a focus area for Echa’s Enforcement Forum.

Speaking to Chemical Watch following the Forum’s meeting earlier this month, chair Katja vom Hofe said it has been difficult for customs authorities to see from Taric codes if Annex XIV substances were present in products. This was because multiple substances were often included within one code. 

“Now each Annex XIV substance, or group of substances, has a specific code and it’s easier for customs authorities – if there is a request from a national enforcement authority – to give information on REACH shipments into the EU.”

Speaking at last month’s Chemical Watch Enforcement Summit, DG Grow’s Miquel Aguado-Monsonet told delegates that if companies import an Annex XIV substance they must provide a valid authorisation, or have a valid reason if they are to be exempted.

The Commission, he added, is also working to integrate REACH chemicals from Annex XVII – the restricted substances list – into the Taric system and expects their inclusion by the end of the year. 

Ongoing work

There are various ongoing projects concerning REACH, customs and enforcement in the EU. This autumn the EU executive is due to launch a tender for a study that will analyse the integration of REACH into EU customs procedures. The contract is expected to begin in the first quarter of 2020 and will run for 16 months.

Earlier this month, a report on an Enforcement Forum pilot project said that in the samples inspected, supply chain information about SVHCs was missing in most articles that contain them. Inspectors looked at 682 articles supplied by 405 companies, finding SVHCs in 12% (84) of the goods.

In March, national enforcement authorities in 16 member states began inspections on imported goods to check for the presence of substances of concern. The final report for the Forum pilot project is expected around mid-2020.

Additionally, DG Grow is discussing with the Directorate-General for Taxation and Customs Union (Taxaud) how to integrate REACH and CLP duties into a new ‘Single Window’. This is a planned customs tool designed to allow economic operators to provide data, including information from non-customs legislation, in a single entry point.

Meanwhile, Echa has been developing a database for SVHCs as part of a revised waste framework Directive (WFD) requirement. Companies producing, importing or supplying such products are required to provide the data. The first version of the Substance of Concern in Products (Scip) database is due to be released in October 2020.

Commission agenda

The need for heightened customs protections is firmly lodged in the mandate of the new European Commission president Ursula von der Leyen.

In her agenda for Europe published in the summer, Dr von der Leyen said it is time to take the customs union “to the next level”. The Commission will do this by “equipping it with a stronger framework that will allow us to better protect our citizens and our single market”. 

She also proposed a  package for an “integrated European approach to reinforce customs risk management and support effective controls by the member states”.

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