Last week began what looks like the final legislative chapter for the long-debated REACH program for the regulation, evaluation, and authorization of chemicals. Late last year, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers voted to accept REACH, but with differences. Those discrepancies led to a round of intense negotiations between the two bodies this spring and summer in the lead-up to what is termed a "second reading" of the bill. The Parliament's Environment Committee debated the second reading recommendations last week and is scheduled to vote on the measure this week. On Nov. 14, the full Parliament is expected to vote on the program. The Council of Ministers' Competitiveness Council is expected to vote on REACH in early December. If the council gives its approval, REACH will go into effect. It will replace the variety of national regulatory programs facing European chemical manufacturers with one unified regimen and, over the next 11 years, will require full testing of most chemicals introduced before 1981. Because REACH will also regulate imported chemicals, some observers anticipate complaints being filed against it with the World Trade Organization.