We were delighted to host Bjorn Hansen, Executive Director of ECHA, who took us through the priorities of the agency for the upcoming years. There was a great turnout at this event, as our members were eager to hear Mr Hansen’s views on the agency and the current system around chemicals, but also on the challenges that the industry faces in Europe.
A wide range of topics were covered during this briefing. After an overview of ECHA’s work, we learned that the organisation has been reorganised according to competences this year, based on a 4-pillar system, including assessing chemicals and risk management.
There needs to be an active contribution from all actors, including the institutions, scientific bodies and industries, to re-establish confidence in the system that governs chemicals. Recently ECHA has shown a lot of competences, has taken on board new legislations and has been working more efficiently, but disagreements between the above mentioned actors have contributed to the lack of confidence faced by the system.
One of the challenges discussed during the briefing was the increasing politicisation of chemicals by some industries and NGOs. While this is a challenge, it also represents a possibility for ECHA to show more competence and gain back confidence. There is a need to work more collaboratively but also to be more vocal publicly, for instance with the Parliament.
The topics discussed during the Q&A were varied, ranging from the interface between waste and chemicals to ECHA’s work on data and biocides.
Tom Murray, Director at EUK Consulting, kindly shared his thoughts on the event with us: “The event with Bjorn Hansen provided a great opportunity to have an open and frank discussion with the new Head of the European Chemicals Agency on EU chemicals policy past, present and future. I found it both informative and interesting and am sure that others in attendance would have come away with the same feeling. “
Executive Director | ECHA
Bjorn Hansen is ECHA's Executive Director. He is ECHA's legal representative, in charge of the day-to-day management and all staff matters. Bjorn is ECHA's second Executive Director with a mandate running from 1 January 2018 to 31 December 2022. After a post-doc in probability theory in Germany, he joined the European Commissions in 1991. Working first at the European Chemicals Bureau at the JRC in Italy and then from 2003 in the Chemicals Unit of DG Environment in Belgium. There Bjorn became Head of Unit in 2012. He already spent 1 year in ECHA in 2007-2008 as Director of Operations. Bjorn was involved in the development of REACH and CLP from their very early days. He has been involved in international chemicals work since 1991, highlights being elected chair of the OECD Working Party on Manufactured Nanomaterials and having chaired several contact groups at three consecutive UN triple COPs.