Normally, I don't provide much info in this space on European regulations (usually confined to nanotechnology or pesticide policy); however, I saw this news and it shocked me a little. The European Chemicals Agency has released the results of its 3rd "REACH Enforcement Project," which collected data from 528 company inspections in 2013 from 28 countries spanning over 3,000 chemicals. The "highest rate of non-compliance (43%) [was] found in the group of only representatives performing this one role only" [as compared to importers (15%) and manufacturers (7%)]. Furthermore, large companies were found to be have a 6% non-compliance rate. "Only representatives" (ORs) are authorized by Article 8(1) whereby "a natural or legal person established outside of the EU who manufactures substances (to be used on their own, in mixtures and/or to produce articles), formulates mixtures or produces articles, can nominate an only representative located within the EU to carry out the required registration of their substances that are imported." Distributors cannot appoint an OR.
The bottom line appears to be that ORs of non-EU companies do not understand or perhaps are unaware of the need for compliance with REACH. Perhaps best summed up by CEFIC: "We need to provide much more communication and education to non-EU countries on what the real requirements are to bring products on the European market."