The pivotal role that the Commission's Joint Research Centre (JRC) will play in the implementation of the new EU chemicals policy was illustrated at a seminar at the JRC in Ispra, Italy, on 1 December. The purpose of the new system for the 'registration, evaluation and authorisation of chemicals' (REACH) is to protect human health and the environment by decreasing the risks related to chemicals. Industry will be required to test chemicals produced or imported in quantities over one tonne, and the Commission is advocating three methods which avoid animal testing: refined exposure information, computer models and cell culture tests. The JRC will be charged with developing the necessary guidance documents, software tools and infrastructure for the implementation of REACH. The DG already has experience in the field, having provided technical and scientific input into the definition of the new legislation since 2000. Its main contribution has been in the area of rules for handling substances of high concern, but it has also been responsible for the development, introduction and adaptation of harmonised testing methods for determining the properties of chemical substances. As REACH is implemented, the JRC will also be responsible for encouraging partnership between industry and authorities, thus facilitating the transfer of responsibility to industry, as is required by the new legislation.