Great Expectations: Reviewing 50 Years of Chemicals Legislation in the EU

Steven Vaughan, Elen Stokes

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


This article is about how we look at EU chemicals law. It brings together the past and present of five decades of EU chemicals law in the hope that it may lead to a better understanding of the future potential and evolution of law in the area. The article tells a story of EU legislative centralisation, colonisation and standardisation. We argue that these historical trends have aroused certain expectations about the role and functioning of modern EU chemicals regulation in REACH. These expectations, we argue, are often unrealistically high, misplaced or at times unnecessarily low. The challenges set out in our article suggest that EU chemicals regulation in its current form is set up largely to fail. Moreover, we argue that these problems make a case for the radical reorientation of regulatory goals, values and practices and indicate that the biggest challenge in chemicals policymaking is not necessarily to meet expectations but to manage them more effectively.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)411-435
Number of pages25
JournalJournal of Environmental Law
Issue number3
Early online date24 Sept 2013
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2013

Bibliographical note

This article appears in:Special Issue : ‘Environmental Law: Looking Backwards, Looking Forwards’


  • European Union
  • chemicals
  • regulation
  • expectations


Dive into the research topics of 'Great Expectations: Reviewing 50 Years of Chemicals Legislation in the EU'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this