08/07/2020 4 min

ANSES is participating in the preparation of a European Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals

To advance research, share knowledge and improve expertise on chemical risk assessment, ANSES and its partners are preparing a European Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals (PARC) as part of the next European Union research and innovation framework programme – Horizon Europe (2021-2027). ANSES is expected to coordinate this partnership. It is currently working with over thirty research and expert appraisal organisations across Europe to prepare the strategy and work programme to be submitted to the European Commission in the first half of 2021.

ANSES and its partners are preparing a proposal for the Horizon Europe funding programme, concerning the part relating to chemical risk assessment

Horizon Europe (2021-2027) is the European Union framework programme for the funding of research and innovation. By responding to thematic calls for projects, scientists can receive funding to advance knowledge and innovation.  

ANSES and its partners – a broad consortium of more than 25 countries and several European agencies – are preparing a European Partnership for the Assessment of Risks from Chemicals as part of the upcoming calls for projects for Horizon Europe.

If accepted, this partnership will provide chemical risk assessors and risk managers with new data, knowledge and methods. It will also develop the network of specialist players and the scientific skills required to address current, emerging and new challenges in chemical safety. The role of the partnership is to facilitate the transition to next-generation risk assessment in order to better protect human health and the environment, in line with the ambitions set out by the EU Green Deal for a toxic-free environment. It will serve as a catalyst for the future "EU chemicals strategy for sustainability".

A structure centred around objectives and impacts

The partnership currently under development builds on the studies undertaken and the experience acquired through the European joint programme on human biomonitoring (HBM4EU – Human Biomonitoring for Europe). The purpose is to establish an EU-wide research and innovation hub of excellence and to strengthen European capacity for chemical risk assessment.

The impacts related to the specific objectives will be addressed on three levels through:

  • a sustainable EU-wide cross-disciplinary network to identify and agree on research and innovation needs and support the uptake of conceptual, scientific and technical research findings in regulatory chemical risk assessment;
  • joint research and innovation activities responding to the priorities identified in order to support the current regulatory risk assessment processes and respond to emerging challenges;
  • the strengthening of existing capacities and the building of new EU-wide, cross-disciplinary research and innovation platforms to support chemical risk assessment.

A strategy and work programme under development

The first 3-year common strategy for the partnership and the associated work programme for the first year are being prepared and will form an integral part of the proposal to be submitted as part of the first calls for Horizon Europe, probably in the first half of 2021. If accepted, the project should be launched in early 2022 for a period of seven years.

The organisations currently involved in preparing the partnership come from 25 countries and include ministries and national chemical risk assessment agencies, as well as research organisations and universities. In addition to these national bodies, representatives of Commission DGs and EU agencies involved in monitoring chemicals and assessing the associated risk (particularly ECHA, EEAEFSA) are also on the steering committee.

In the first instance, the steering committee drafted a conceptual document. This set out the main lines of work, the partnership objectives, the research themes, the list of associated partners and the governance that could be implemented in the future partnership. 

To complete this document and develop the first 3-year common strategy for the future partnership, two approaches are currently being pursued in parallel:

  • a collaborative study to identify and prioritise the research activities to be implemented;
  • an open survey to better understand the challenges faced by risk assessors and risk managers and their research and innovation needs. This survey was launched at the end of June 2020, in synergy with the HBM4EU project. Organisations have until 18 September 2020 to respond. 

On the basis of the results obtained, an "evidence-based priority-setting process relying on both scientific and policy considerations" will be implemented to finalise the 3-year strategy and translate it into an operational work programme for the first year of the partnership.

ANSES is expected to become the partnership coordinator

ANSES is expected to become the partnership coordinator. If the partnership is accepted for funding by Horizon Europe and Member States, the Agency will be in charge of its scientific and administrative coordination as soon as it kicks off.

This partnership proposal provides an excellent opportunity to boost research and innovation in support of chemical risk assessment. It will meet the needs of risk assessment agencies, such as ANSES, while also helping to address the challenges, ambitions and priorities of new European policies to ensure that the level of protection delivered for public health and the environment meets the expectations of European citizens.