Ecodesign – External Power Supplies (EU)

A 2009 dated EU Directive 2009/125/EC establishes a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products. Separate EU Regulations set ecodesign specifies for individual product groups within this framework.

A 2009 dated EU Regulation (EC) No 278/2009 set the ecodesign requirements for external power supplies, and this is now reviewed and updated.

EU Regulation (EU) 2019/1782 now sets the new ecodesign requirements for external power supplies from 1st April 2020 (and Regulation (EC) No 278/2009 is repealed from that date). The new EU Regulation is here. It specifies energy efficiency requirements.

EU Regulation (EU) 2019/1782 applies to all external supplies as defined in Article 2, except a short list set out in Article 1.

The updated European Regulation applies to the EU member states, including the UK (where it will be regarded as Retained EU Law).

New – European Climate Law (EU)

The EU has today launched a Proposal for a new Regulation establishing a framework for achieving climate neutrality (European Climate Law) – here.

This new Regulation proposes a legally binding target of net zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050, and binds the EU Institutions and the Member States to take the necessary measures at EU and national level to meet the target.

The new Regulation includes measures to keep track of progress and adjust actions accordingly, based on existing systems such as the governance process for Member States’ National Energy and Climate Plans, regular reports by the European Environment Agency, and the latest scientific evidence on climate change and its impacts.

Progress will be reviewed every five years, in line with the global stocktake exercise under the Paris Agreement.

The new Regulation also sets steps to get to the 2050 target:

• Based on a comprehensive impact assessment, the Commission will propose a new EU target for 2030 greenhouse gas emissions reductions. This part of the proposed Regulation will be amended once the impact assessment is completed.

• By June 2021, the Commission will review, and where necessary propose to revise, all relevant policy instruments to deliver the additional emissions reductions for 2030.

• The Commission proposes the adoption of a 2030-2050 EU-wide trajectory for greenhouse gas emission reductions, to measure progress and give predictability to public authorities, businesses and citizens.

• By September 2023, and every five years thereafter, the Commission will assess the consistency of EU and national measures with the climate-neutrality objective and the 2030-2050 trajectory.

• The Commission will be empowered to issue Recommendations to Member States whose actions are inconsistent with the climate-neutrality objective, and Member States will be obliged to take due account of these Recommendations or to explain their reasoning if they fail to do so.

• Member States will also be required to develop and implement adaptation strategies to strengthen resilience and reduce vulnerability to the effects of climate change.

The next step for the proposed Regulation is consideration by the European Parliament, the Council, the Economic and Social Committee and the Committee of the Regions under the ordinary legislative procedure.

EU Single-Use Plastics Directive (UK alignment)

From 1st January 2021, the UK is outside the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement transition period.

Northern Ireland – EU Law on goods (includes Environment) continues to apply.

Scotland – a ban on cotton buds is already in place

England – plastic straws, stirrers and cotton buds ban will come into force in April 2020

Wales – the Welsh government will consult

The EU Single-Use Plastics Directive was published in 2019, Member States have two years to implement, some aspects a bit longer – here.

The 2019 Directive mandates a reduction in the consumption of the single-use plastic products listed in Part A of the Annex, in line with the overall objectives of the EU’s waste policy, in particular waste prevention, leading to a substantial reversal of increasing consumption trends. The measures (put in place in member states) should achieve a measurable quantitative reduction in the consumption of the single-use plastic products listed in Part A of the Annex on the territory of the Member State by 2026 compared to 2022.

The 2019 Directive also mandates a ban on the placing on the market of the single-use plastic products listed in Part B of the Annex and of products made from oxo-degradable plastic.

The 2019 Directive also obliges Member States to ensure that single-use plastic products listed in Part C of the Annex that have caps and lids made of plastic may be placed on the market only if the caps and lids remain attached to the containers during the products’ intended use stage.

The 2019 Directive sets out further measures.

Circular Economy Waste Package (Ireland)

The Circular Economy Waste Package is a collection of directives from the EU which have to be translated into EU member state law:

* Directive (EU) 2018/851 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 2008/98/EC on waste

* Directive (EU) 2018/850 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 1999/31/EC on the landfill of waste

* Directive (EU) 2018/852 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 30 May 2018 amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste

* Directive (EU) 2018/849 of 30 May 2018 amending Directives 2000/53/EC on end-of-life vehicles, 2006/66/EC on batteries and accumulators and waste batteries and accumulators, and 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment

These directives, which will amend the existing legislation of EU member states, increase current waste-management targets while introducing some new ones. They strengthen requirements around waste prevention, extend producer responsibility, and streamline definitions, while reporting on obligations and calculation methods for targets.

I blog posted about these amendments a while back. The consolidated EU Directives are supplied in Cardinal EHS Legislation Registers & Checklists (paid subscribers will have access to, as tailored).

EU Member States, including Ireland, are required to transpose these four directives into national law by 5 July 2020.

On 30th December 2019, the Irish Department of Communications, Climate Action and the Environment announced it is seeking views on this transposition process through a public consultation.

Along with the four directives mentioned above, the Single Use Plastic Directive (EU 2019/904) (SUP Directive) is also going to be transposed into national law, by 5 July 2021. This directive contains enhanced provisions to those contained in the Circular Economy Waste Package. I blog posted about this Directive as well, and it will be added to paid subscribers Registers & Checklists systems.

Given the links between the directives, Ireland is also seeking views on the transposition of the SUP Directive.

The deadline for consultation is 5pm, Friday 21, February, 2020.

The consultation document is – here.

Drinking Water Directive (EU)

Provisional agreement on revision of the EU Drinking Water Directive was reached on 19th December.

The proposal updates to the latest changes to WHO safety standards.

Further details are here.

UK – if the revised EU Directive is published before 31st December, which it is likely to be, then it will apply in the UK (but local law would have to be updated).

New Plant Health Rules (EU)

In October 2016, the EU adopted Regulation (EU) 2016/2031 on protective measures against plant pests (“Plant Health Law”).

On 13 December 2016, the Regulation entered into force and is applicable from today 14 December 2019.

These rules constitute the EU Plant Health Regime, which has been in place since 1977 and was fully reviewed by the European Commission in May 2013.

The new rules aim to modernise the plant health regime, enhancing more effective measures for the protection of the Union’s territory and its plants. They also aim to ensure safe trade, as well as to mitigate the impacts of climate change on the health of our crops and forests.

From 14 December 2019, the current Annexes of Directive 2000/29/EC, whereby the regulated pests, the regulated plants, plant products and other objects and the plant health import, as well as internal movement, requirements are listed, are replaced with a new Implementing Act 2019/2072 and its Annexes.

This Implementing Act is here.

From 14 December 2019, all plants (including living parts of plants) will need to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate to enter into the EU, unless they are listed in Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2019 as exempted from this general requirement (not requiring to be accompanied by a phytosanitary certificate). Currently, the list of plants exempted from the obligation to carry a phytosanitary certificate from 14 December 2019 are the following fruits: pineapples, coconuts, durians, bananas and dates.

Commission Implementing Regulation (EU) 2018/2019 is updated by 2019/2072.

EU plant health rules also cover the movement and trade within the EU of certain plants, plant products and other objects which are potential carriers of quarantine pests. These plants, plant products and other objects are listed in Annex VIII and IX of the above Implementing Regulation (EU) 2019/2072.

Within the EU, these rules include:

• Requirements for internal movements – Regulation (EU) 2019/2072 – Annex VIII, IX and X

• Production controls and inspections at the place of production during the growing season and immediately after harvest;

• Official producer registration;

• Plant passports, issued to accompany the plants, products and other objects once they have passed all the EU checks.

Registration of EU producers

• Directives 92/90 EEC and 93/50 EC

• Regulation (EU) 2016/2031, Articles 65-70

Rules for issuing plant passports

• Directive 92/105/EEC as amended by Directive 2005/17 /EC

• Criteria for authorization Regulation (EU) 2019/827

• Format of plant passports Regulation (EU) 2017/2313

• Regulation (EU) 2016/2031, Articles 78-95

Brexit – the UK Government has issued instructions, these new EU Plant Health Rules apply today to movements within the UK and movements to the EU.

The UK instructions are here.

Energy Taxes (EU)

On the 5th December, the relevant Council of the EU (government ministers of the EU) adopted conclusions of the European Commission on the EU energy taxation framework. The Council Conclusions on energy taxation are here.

The Conclusions are a response to the European Council’s call to advance work on the conditions, incentives and enabling framework to ensure a transition to a climate-neutral EU, in line with the Paris Agreement. The aim is to contribute to the policy objectives and measures to achieve the environmental, energy and climate targets for 2030, while preserving European competitiveness, and respecting member states’ rights to decide on their own energy mix.  

The energy taxation directive adopted in 2003 identifies energy products subject to harmonised rules for excise duties, sets minimum levels of taxation and lays down conditions for applying tax exemptions and reductions, ensuring the proper functioning of the internal market.

The EU now has a new regulatory framework and policy objectives in the area of climate and energy.

The Council Conclusions call on the Commission to analyse and evaluate possible options for a possible revision of the energy taxation directive. The Commission is invited to give particular consideration to the scope of the directive, minimum rates and specific tax reductions and exemptions.

In addition the Conclusions call on the Commission to update provisions, as appropriate, in order to ensure that they are practicable and provide greater certainty and clarity in its implementation, taking notably into consideration:

• the treatment of biofuels and other alternative fuels,

• the applicability of control and movement provisions to certain products, such as treatment of lubricants and designer fuels,

• new energy products and technologies,

• relevant sectors, such as aviation, taking into account their specificities and existing exemptions and international dimension,

• impacts on government revenues,

• state aid processes and rules.

The Council highlights the importance of fully assessing its proposals in terms of their economic, social and environmental costs and benefits and their implications for competitiveness, connectivity, employment and sustainable economic growth, particularly for sectors most exposed to international competition.

Pesticides (EU)

Regulation (EC) No 1107/2009 is the governing EU Law on the placing of plant protection products (pesticides and herbicides) on the European market – the PPP Regulation.

This is a useful Q&A document (2015) about the PPP Regulation – here.

A zonal system of authorisation operates in the EU to enable a harmonised and efficient system to operate.

The EU is divided into 3 zones; North, Central and South. EU countries assess applications on behalf of other countries in their zone and sometimes on behalf of all zones.

The PPP Regulation sets out the requirements, procedure and timeframes for authorisation of Plant Protection Products (PPPs).

Applicants, EU countries, the European Commission and the European Food Safety Authority (EFSA) can be involved in the process of authorisation.

There are different types of application that can be submitted depending on the intended use of the PPP, the Member State(s) for which the PPP is required and the regulatory status of any existing authorisations.

Authorisations usually are time-limited and therefore come up again for review. The relevant EU body for the whole EU is the Standing Committee on Plants, Animals, Food and Feed (SCoPAFF).

In March 2019, the non-renewal of the fungicide active substance chlorothalonil came up for review at SCoPAFF, and the decision was not to renew.

In December 2019, the non-renewal of two organophosphate active substances chlorpyrifos and chlorpyrifos-methyl came up for review at SCoPAFF, and the decision is not to renew (this decision is not yet published).

This means products containing the above active substances may not circulate in the European market, stocks may be used up for a short time, determined by the EU authorisation document that is issued for the active substance.

Brexit : as an EU Regulation, the PPP Regulation is adopted in the UK as Retained EU Law. Enacted Brexit Law (in force from Exit day) makes changes to the PPP Regulation to enable it to stand alone within the UK statute base.

DEFRA has made no announcements re reversing EU bans.

Carcinogens (EU)

2019 saw the second and third revisions of the European Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive Annex III (the list of substances for which exposure limits apply) agreed. I blog posted about the changes a while back, check the category Chemicals.

Member states have until dates in 2021 to implement the revisions in national law.

Ireland has now updated its local law, and Email Alerts to subscribers with Ireland (ROI) systems will see details in their November & December Email Alert dispatching tomorrow. Law Checklists are also being updated.

Subscribers with other EU26 countries in their systems will see details in their next 6-month Email Alerts. Law Checklists are being updated now.

Subscribers with UK nations in their systems will see advisory details in their January 2020 Email Alerts dispatching at the end of January 2020. UK Law Checklists will be updated ONLY if UK national law is updated. Note : UK includes Northern Ireland.

Brexit : since these revisions were agreed before the Exit day, it is expected (but not confirmed) that they will be applied in UK national law. But as a Directive, the Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive is not a Retained EU Law, and there are no Brexit Laws applicable.

European Green Deal (EU)

11 December will see the incoming Commissioner (European Commission) for the Green Deal present a draft of a new environmental law (a new climate EU Law, part of the European Green Deal) to Members of the European Parliament (MEPs) ahead of the 12/13 December Council summit.

European watchers have seen a draft version of the European Green Deal (also known as “Green New Deal”) – it comprises a summary of an early draft proposal – marked “for internal use only” – that was circulated to EU countries’ national representations in Brussels in order to get some feedback. European watchers describe the draft document as more like a shopping list, filled with numerous bullet points stacked under a series of headlines.

First in the list (in the draft European Green Deal document) is Europe’s objective of reaching climate neutrality, to be achieved by a European ‘Climate Law’ enshrining the 2050 climate neutrality objective, to be submitted by March 2020.

The European Commission 2050 long-term strategy is here.

And by October 2020, the draft says, the European Commission “will present a comprehensive plan on how to increase the EU’s greenhouse gas emission reduction target for 2030 to at least 50% and towards 55%”.

The European Commission 2030 climate & energy framework is here.

Credit Euractiv for the text below in italics that gives other details –

Further down, the Commission promises “mainstreaming sustainability” into all policies, by adopting “a green oath: ‘do no harm’”. In practice, Brussels will seek to eliminate “incoherent legislation that reduces the effectiveness in delivering the Green Deal”.

This includes financial aspects with a proposal to “screen and benchmark green budgeting practices” both at EU and national level. An “action plan on green financing” will be submitted in June 2020 in this regard. A review of “state aid guidelines for environment and energy” is also on the agenda.

Other widely-anticipated initiatives include a proposal to revise the Energy Taxation Directive with a view to “align it” with Europe’s climate ambitions. And while the Commission wants to “pursue efforts” to scrap the unanimity rule on taxation, there is no mention of the announced carbon border tax meant to protect industries like steelmaking from dumped Chinese imports.

Under the “zero-emission nobility” heading, the Commission plans to extend the EU’ cap-and-trade scheme for carbon emissions, to the maritime sector and reduce the amount of free pollution credits allocated to airlines.

Brussels will also “assess the possibility of including road transport emissions” in the scheme, a proposal which has long been resisted by environmental groups. And it plans to “withdraw and resubmit” proposals on the Eurovignette directive to charge heavy-duty trucks on European roads, a proposal which is currently stuck with EU member states in the Council of Ministers.

Under the ecosystem and biodiversity preservation heading, the Commission proposes to “review all existing legislation affecting agriculture and forestry to ensure it is in line with renewed climate and biodiversity ambition”.

And under the “farm to fork” strategy, the EU executive intends to adopt “a toolbox for alternatives to pesticides” and reform food information rules “to improve consumers’ information”.

Finally, the Commission aims to review air, water and chemicals legislation with a view to “eliminating all sources of pollution.”

Further Blog posts will be issued in due course on the various matters. Please look out for them.