REACH was created through a long process of stakeholder debate and discussions within the European Commission, Member State Governments and the European Parliament. This is a brief outline of some key events, with links to meeting reports and other documents where available:
For another view of the history of REACH, see "The only planet guide to the secrets of chemicals policy in the EU - REACH," produced by the former green MEP Inger Schörling.
April 1998: Informal Environment Council in Chester, UK, expresses concerns about the chemical regulatory system.
November 1998: Commission publishes a report on the functioning of the four main current chemicals regulatory instruments.
February 1999: A Commission–organized stakeholder debate: “Industrial Chemicals: Burden of the Past, Challenge for the Future.” After the meeting, recommendations were produced by the consultants WRC.
June 1999: Environment Council concludes that there is a need for a new approach to chemicals regulation, and calls on the Commission “to submit the policy document outlining a new chemicals strategy at the latest by the end of the year 2000.”
February 2001: European Commission publishes the White Paper which first outlines the REACH system.
April 2001: European Commission holds a stakeholder debate on the White Paper (see a report of the meeting).
June 2001: Council backs the REACH proposal in the conclusions of Environment Council.
October/November 2001: European Parliament debates and votes on report on the White Paper, supporting the Reach proposal.
Winter 2001/02: Technical working groups on REACH, organized by the Commission with contributions from stakeholders.
May 2002: Commission holds a stakeholder debate on the Business Impact of REACH (agenda, talks, and minutes are available), at which a draft business impact assessment was presented and discussed — this impact assessment is then published in June.
May–July 2003: Internet consultation on the full draft REACH text (text and responses available here).
November 2003: Commission workshop on impact assessment of REACH (Talks available on the DG Enterprise REACH impact assessment site).
November 2006: The REACH text was informally ‘agreed’ at a ‘trialogue’ meeting (Government of Finland as the Presidency of the European Union (EU), the European Parliament (EP) and the European Commission)
December 2006: The ‘agreement’ reached in November was endorsed at a COREPER meeting (the meeting of the 'Ambassadors' to the EU from all the Member States).
The final text of the REACH legislation is available for download here.