The results of the public consultation on the review of the Outdoor Noise Directive (OND) are currently analysed in the context of the ongoing evaluation and impact assessment study. The evaluation of the current Directive performances is finalised. The consultant, namely VVA group, is now assessing costs and benefits of envisaged changes in the OND, such as self-certification and stricter or new noise limits.
The final results will be presented at the next meeting of the European Commission OND WG scheduled on 28 September 2018.
Then, the European Commission will prepare its proposal for a revision of the OND together with the impact assessment. The proposal is expected at the end of 2019 at the earliest. Consequently, the revision process of the OND will not be finalised before 2021 or 2022.
The European Commission published on 4 June a new Proposal for a Regulation complementing the existing EU type approval legislation (including the NRMM Regulation 2016/1628) with regard to Brexit. The proposal recalls that as of the withdrawal date (30 March 2019) the EU legislation on type approval will cease to apply in the UK which will become a third country. This situation, coupled with the requirements of the current type approval, will therefore bring about the following constraints:
– The current system does not allow manufacturers to change the authority once an approval has been granted, nor to have two simultaneous approvals.
– A type approval authority may only accept test reports from technical services in the Member State in question, previously designated and notified by the Commission.
– The approval of a product may only be given against the requirements applicable to new types instead of new vehicles, at the time when the approval is granted.
– The UK type approval authority, as soon as it loses the status of an EU type approval authority, will no longer guarantee conformity of production and in-service conformity of products already on the market.
To address these issues, the Commission aims at temporarily modifying the existing requirements of type approval legislation to allow manufacturers who have previously received an UK type approval for their products, to apply for an EU-27 one without interrupting their production.
The following measures are laid down in the proposal:
• A manufacturer holding a valid UK type approval certificate should be allowed, before the EU law ceases to apply in the UK, to apply to a new EU-27 type approval authority in order to obtain an EU type approval of an existing type.
• New EU-27 type approvals may be based on the same test report(s) previously used for granting the UK type approval, provided that the requirements as the basis of these test reports are still the same, and regardless of whether the technical service who issued the test report has been designated and notified by the Member State of the EU type approval. However, should the type approval authority responsible for granting the new approval deem it appropriate, they have the discretion to require new tests on any aspect of the approval.
• New approvals may be granted if requirements for new vehicles, systems, components and separate technical units are fulfilled rather than those for new types.
• To ensure that there is a responsible type approval after the withdrawal date, the authority granting the new type-approval according to this Regulation should assume those obligations related to repair, maintenance, recall and in-service conformity of checks, with respect to vehicles, systems, components and separate technical units based on the same type and already placed on the market in the EU, on the basis of the type-approval granted in the UK.
This proposal has been transmitted to the European Parliament and the Council, for the co-decision discussions to start. The Internal Market Committee (IMCO) in the European Parliament will be responsible for this file but the rapporteur has not been nominated yet. In the meantime, feedback on the proposal is requested by 30 July via the Better Regulation Portal.
A new list of harmonised standards in the framework of the implementation of the Low Voltage Directive 2014/35/EU was published on 15 June in the Official Journal (OJEU 15.06.2018 C 209/37).
The latest meeting of the LVD Working Party took place on 25 June. Prior to this meeting, the European Commission provided a new draft of the LVD Guidelines for discussion. Most updates have been applied to the following sections: §6 products covered (page 20), §13 obligation of manufacturers (page 29), §25 Obligations of manufacturers for importers and distributors (page 38), custom-built evaluation kits (pages 68 and 69) and Annex VII examples of products within or outside the scope of LVD (pages 78-82).
The European Commission published the RED Guidelines on 5 June. The final changes to the Guidelines were approved at the meeting of the Telecommunications and Market Surveillance Committee (TCAM) on 31 May – 1 June. At the same time, the Commission issued a supplementary guidance on LVD/EMCD/RED, which includes the official interpretation on the status of “combined equipment”. The document also clarifies the following aspects: who becomes the manufacturer in the case of electrical/electronic equipment being included in or attached to non-electrical product, depending on two possible scenarios (electrical/electronic equipment not placed on the market, or already placed on the market); what are the obligations of the manufacturer in case of the combination between the electrical/electronic equipment and the non-electrical equipment; and what are the CE marking requirements for LVD/EMCD, and for RED.
Regarding the situation of RED harmonised standards, the Commission informed that they are currently working on a mapping of relevant receiver parameters in harmonised standards to achieve coherence with the RED requirements. The new HAS consultants will be involved in this process.
The draft report concerning the compliance and enforcement file (rapporteur: Nicola Danti) was discussed in the Internal Market Committee (IMCO) on 16 May. Subsequently, more than 500 amendments (set 1 and set 2) were tabled by IMCO MEPs and debated during a committee meeting on 18 June. As regards positive outcomes, many MEPs propose harmonised schemes for risk assessment methodology and checking procedures across the Member States, stress the principle of proportionality in the powers granted to MSA, allow other means to make the Declaration of Conformity available, and insist on the need to ensure transparent and impartial criteria when setting up Memoranda of Understanding between the MSA and stakeholders.
On the negative side, some amendments reintroduce the “marking of origin” provision, propose mandatory third-party auditing schemes, extend the scope of the legislation and add new requirements which go beyond the purpose of the Commission proposal aimed at compliance and enforcement of EU harmonisation legislation (e.g. addressing new risks arising from the use of new technologies including Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, cyber-security etc.).
The rapporteur and shadow rapporteurs worked on the compromise amendments throughout June and presented them at the IMCO meeting on 11 July. The vote in the committee is scheduled to take place on 3 September, to be followed by the adoption of the Parliament’s first reading report in October.
Exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (EMF) is a recurrent subject in the European Parliament. On 27 April, MEP Christelle Lechevalier (ENF, France) used this topic to draw attention of the Commission with a written question on electromagnetic properties of minerals found in Chinese-made components for first-generation wind and solar renewable energy technologies and ways to limit the entry of these minerals on the EU market. The Commission has yet to respond to Ms Lechevalier’s question.
The impact of radiations emitted by mobile network stations on human health was raised by MEP Biljana Borzan (S&D, Croatia), who asked a written question about the implementation of the Directive 2013/35 on the minimum health and safety requirements regarding the exposure of workers to the risks arising from physical agents in Member States. In particular MEP Borzan asked whether Member States were implementing in a satisfactory manner the exposure limit value set in the directive, or even introducing stricter rules. The Commission replied on 7 June that today all Member States have transposed the EMF Directive and are now generally following the exposure limit value set. Some countries enforce stricter rules, based on non-binding restriction levels set in a 1999 Council Recommendation. The Commission is funding research studies to assess the health risk from EMF. Limit exposure levels may be reviewed by the Commission’s Scientific Committee depending on studies results.
The second meeting of the Industrial Policy High Level Roundtable took place on 27 June, with the participation of the President of Industry. It was chaired by Jyrki Katainen, the Commission Vice-President for Jobs, Growth, Investment and Competitiveness and Elżbieta Bieńkowska, the Commissioner for Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs.
The work was based on two documents prepared by the Commission ahead of the meeting:
• A “Scoping paper on vision for the European industry until 2030”, consisting of six chapters on
i) a vision for 2030,
ii) trends towards 2030,
iii) key drivers of success,
iv) how can the EU deliver, what role for the Member States and the regions,
v) how to monitor performance (this chapter will be based on the set of indicators defined in the other document) and
vi) call for action. At Industry’s request, another chapter will be added, presenting an analysis the current shape of the EU industry,
• A set of “Industrial Policy Indicators”, 43 in total, grouped under “headline indicators”, “single market and empowering people (including skills)”, “going digital”, “circular and low carbon economy”, “investing in industry of the future”, supporting industrial innovation on the ground”, and “international dimension”.
At the meeting, following a brainstorming session, three working groups were set up, each charged with drafting one of the first three chapters of the final report, with a deadline on 23 October.
The next meeting of the Roundtable is on 6 November. The final work of the HLIR is expected in July 2019, to be presented to the next College of European Commissioners.
On 6 June, the European Commission presented, as part of the Multiannual Financial Framework, a new Digital Europe programme, granted with €9.2 billion to be invested in five key areas over the period 2021-2027:
Supercomputers: €2.7 billion will fund projects aiming to deploy a supercomputer and data infrastructure with exa-scale capabilities (1018 calculations per second) by 2022/2023, and post exa-scale facilities by 2026/2027, providing the EU with its own independent and competitive technology supply. The planned initiatives will build on the European strategy on supercomputers.
Artificial intelligence (AI): €2.5 billion is planned to help spread AI across the European economy and society. The Commission proposes to develop common ‘European libraries’ of algorithms that would be accessible to all, to help the public and private sectors to identify and acquire whichever solution would work best for their needs. Open platforms and access to industrial data spaces for artificial intelligence will be made available across the EU in the Digital Innovation Hubs established under the “Digitising European Industry” framework, providing testing facilities and knowledge to small businesses and local innovators.
Cybersecurity and trust: €2 billion will be invested in cyber defence and the EU’s cybersecurity industry, financing state-of-the-art cybersecurity equipment and infrastructure as well as supporting the development of the necessary skills and knowledge.
Digital skills: €700 million will be allocated via the Digital Innovation Hubs to targeted programmes helping small and medium-sized enterprises and public administrations to equip their personnel with advanced skills on supercomputing, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity.
Ensuring a wide use of digital technologies across the economy and society: €1.3 billion will be granted to the Digital Innovation Hubs as ‘one-stop shops’ for small and medium-sized enterprises and public administrations, providing access to technological expertise and experimentation facilities, as well as advice to better assess the business case of digital transformation projects. A network of Digital Innovation Hubs will be supported, ensuring the widest geographical coverage across Europe.
This, as part of the overall Multiannual Financial Framework for the period 2021-2027, is under discussion between the European Parliament and the Council, following the special legislative procedure defined in article 312 of the Treaty on the Functioning of the EU (majority of the Members of the European Parliament, unanimity of the Council).
The European Commission Directorate-General for Communications Networks, Content and Technology (DG CONNECT) has launched a study on “Electronics Ecosystem: Overview, Developments and Europe’s Position in the World”. It aims to provide an up-to-date overview of the Micro and Nanoelectronics ecosystem and value chains in Europe, and more particularly to provide a method and collect data to quantify the electronics value chains and market segmentation in Europe.
This will highlight the strong points of the European Electronics Ecosystem value chain (automotive, industrial, medical, aerospace defence and security), and the changes in technologies and markets (emergence of the Internet of things (IoT), autonomous systems, artificial intelligence (AI) and high-performance computing. This will be done by measuring the level of industrial activity, positioning the European industry compared to the rest of the world and by delivering an assessment of future perspectives in markets and technologies.
To prepare it, DG CONNECT has commissioned two consultants, CARSA and DECISION Études & Conseil, which have launched a targeted survey addressing all relevant European stakeholders.
As announced in its Communication of 25 April, the European Commission has set up a High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (HLEG on AI) which met for the first time on 27 June In Brussels, with Industry as one of its members.
Following a selection procedure, the composition of the group was announced on 14 June: it comprises 52 representatives from academia (19), consumers and other civil society groups (10), as well as trade unions and industry – companies and associations – (23). Also, observers from other European or International Organisations have been invited to participate in tits activities.
The general objective of this Group is to support the implementation of the European strategy on AI designed in the Communication. It includes the elaboration of recommendations on future AI-related policy development and on ethical, legal and societal issues related to AI, including socio-economic challenges. In particular, the Group is tasked to :
• Advise the Commission on next steps addressing AI-related mid to long-term challenges and opportunities, and make recommendations which will feed into the policy development process
• Propose to the Commission draft AI ethics guidelines,
• Support the Commission on further engagement to interact with a broader set of stakeholders in the context of the Artificial Intelligence (AI) Alliance*.
The first meeting of the Group (HLEG on AI) took place on 27 June 2018 under the Chairmanship of Khalil Rouhana, Deputy Director General of DG CONNECT and, after his designation, by Pekka Ala-Pietilä, member of the supervisory board of SAP and Chairman of the Board of several high-tech companies.
It was essentially devoted to defining the scope and content of the work of the two working groups which will draft the two reports expected from the HLEG on AI, namely a draft AI ethics guideline, and a policy and investments strategy to be available for the next College of Commissioners in 2019. Moreover, it was agreed during the first meeting that, to cut the discussion on definitions short, a special working group would be set up to discuss and agree upon a set of definitions.
It was also recalled that the Group should: a) engage with the broader AI Alliance and b) cooperate with the Member States High Level Group on AI.
It should be noted that, already before the first meeting, work on ethics has advanced quite substantially, notably with a Statement from the European Group on Ethics in Science and New Technologies (which directly advises the European Commission President).
On policy and investments, the Commission proposed before the first meeting to discuss the following themes: how to boost scientific excellence in AI in Europe, how to maximise uptake (application sectors to focus on in priority, barriers to deployment, regulatory or other sandboxes, specific support to SMEs and start-ups), which infrastructure is critical to ensure a viable AI eco-system, where would regulation or de-regulation be beneficial, what measures regarding the impact of AI on labour markets?
• By 3 July: members of the HLEG to decide in which of both working groups (ethics or policy and investments strategy) they want to be involved, and whether they want to chair one of them.
• By 3 July: member of the HLEG to decide whether they want to become part of a special WG on definitions.
• By 10 July: draft minutes sent by Commission
• By 30 July: comments to the minutes, which should, according to the elected Chairman, constitute some 20% of the final documents and should be ready by the end of August
• Workshop on 20 September in Brussels (topic to be defined by the end of August with the input of HLEG members)
• Meeting of HLEG on 8&9 October in Helsinki, including a meeting with the Member States High Level group on AI and with Commissioner Gabriel, in charge of the Digital Economy and Society Portfolio
• Workshop on 8 November in Brussels (topic to be defined at a later stage with the input of HLEG members)
• Workshop on 13 December in Brussels (topic to be defined at a later stage with the input of HLEG members)
• Meeting of the HLEG on 22 January in Brussels
• End of March: draft ethics guidelines to be presented to the AI Alliance (conference)
• Summer 2019: policy and investment strategy to be published.
* This Artificial Intelligence Alliance, which includes businesses, consumer organisations, trade unions, and other representatives of civil society bodies is set up to will form a multi-stakeholder platform which will complement and support the work of the AI High Level Experts Group, in particular in preparing draft AI ethics guidelines, and ensuring the competitiveness of Europe in this field. The AI High Level Expert Group will serve as the steering group for the European AI Alliance’s work.
On 6 June, the European Parliament’s Committee on the Internal Market and Consumer Protection (IMCO) adopted its report on the Commission Regulation proposal establishing a framework on the free flow of non-personal data.
The set of amendments proposed focus on:
i) the need to clarify (by referring to the Treaty and applicable case-law of the European Court of Justice) the public security exception granted to the Member States in terms of free circulation (the Report proposes to use the concept of “imperative grounds of public security”,ii) facilitating access to data for public authorities also in other Member states,
iii) in case of mixed (personal and non-personal data) which cannot be differentiated, the non-personal data Regulation should apply, and not the General Data Protection Regulation,
iv) portability between different cloud service providers should be ensured, based on Codes of Conducts to be designed by users and service providers and facilitated and monitored by the Commission, and
v) reducing the review deadline to be able to adapt more quickly to changes in this area.
The latest SMAART meeting took place on 2 May. The meeting discussed a few draft standardisation requests including on: ecodesign requirements of air heating products, cooling products, high temperature process chillers and fan coils; personal protective equipment (PPE); explosives for civil use.
The industry expressed criticism towards the standardisation request for PPE, intended to have a new structure compared to previous mandates. Industry representatives argue that the documentary obligations which the new structure imposes are too prescriptive and come in contrast with the concept of market-driven standardisation. According to the industry, such a change should not be implemented, as it would have a major impact on how European standardisation works today.
The SMAART meeting also provided an update on the state of play of the implementation of the recent Joint Action Plan by the Commission and the ESOs. DG GROW announced that it set up a monitoring scheme to regularly trace the non-cited harmonised standards, both those delivered by ESOs for referencing, and those under developments by ESOs. The Commission reported a decrease of nearly 50% of the initial stock of non-cited standards. Problems still remain for two sectors in particular (construction products and medical devices), where insufficient progress has been made.
The next SMAART meeting will take place 2-4 weeks before the next meeting of the Committee on Standards, scheduled for 15 October 2018.
CEN-CENELEC launched in May 2018 an Industry Advisory Forum to steer the European standardisation priorities through an open dialogue between the industry and CEN-CENELEC. This high-level group is supposed to consist of maximum 10-15 members (CEN-CENELEC members and industry representatives who support standardisation), but ad-hoc groups may be set up on specific issues. The main task of the IAF is to assist CEN and CENELEC in identifying strategic standardisation priorities for future actions in support of industry.
Another recent activity of CEN-CENELEC is the adoption of a new ‘HAS Contractor/Consultants System interaction with the CEN-CENELEC Process‘ defining how the HAS Consultants assess European Standards which are candidate for citation. As a reminder, the new HAS Consultant framework which replaced the New Approach Consultant system entered into force on 1 April 2018.
The European Commission has published a proposal amending four Directives on EU consumer protection rules, namely Council Directive 93/13/EEC, Directive 98/6/EC, Directive 2005/29/EC, and Directive 2011/83/EU. The proposed amendments concern mainly the 2005 and 2011 Directives; the other two have been amended only regarding penalties.
This proposal builds on the Fitness Check evaluation of the EU consumer and marketing laws, as well as the evaluation of the Consumer Rights Directive which ran in parallel to the Fitness Check. The conclusion of these evaluations indicate that the EU consumer legislation is overall fit for purpose, but some changes can be implemented to improve enforcement, modernise rules to be in line with digital developments and reduce regulatory burdens.
The amendments proposed focus on the following key measures:
• Strengthened rules on penalties for widespread infringements: Member States will be allowed to impose a fine of at least up to 4% of a trader’s turnover
• Consumers’ right of individual remedies: when consumers are harmed by unfair commercial practices, they will be entitled to individual remedies which should be both contractual (right to contract termination) and non-contractual (right to compensation for damages).
• Transparency for consumers in the online marketplace: consumers buying online should receive information about the identity and legal status of the contractual partner.
• Prohibition of hidden advertising: relevant provisions in Directive 2005 should clarify that online platforms must show “search results” that contain paid placements or paid inclusion.
• Extension of the CRD to digital services where there is no monetary payment, but consumers provide their personal data. The obligation to obtain consumers’ express consent only applies in the calculation of monetary compensation that the consumer must provide to the trader for the use of services.
• Reduction of burdens to businesses related to the right of withdrawal: Directive 2011/83/EU is amended to delete the trader’s obligation to accept the return of goods even when consumer has used them more than allowed; the amendment also removes the obligation to reimburse the consumer even before the former has received back the returned goods.
Following the publication of the Commission proposal on better enforcement and modernisation of EU consumer protection rules, the European Parliament has appointed the responsible committee (IMCO) and nominated the rapporteur (Daniel Dalton, ECR, UK). A public hearing on the proposal took place in the IMCO committee on 11 July.
The European Commission published a report on the application of the Directive 85/374/EEC on liability for defective products on 7 May. This Directive foresees that if a product causes damage to a person or their private property, the producer is liable to pay compensation.
The report is accompanied by an evaluation of the Directive to assess its relevance, effectiveness, efficiency, coherence and EU added value since its inception in 1985. The Commission concludes that overall, the Directive is still fit for purpose and has succeeded in protecting consumers while encouraging innovation. However, special consideration has to be given to the assessment of whether the product liability framework can adequately address possible challenged posed by new technologies (Internet of Things, Artificial Intelligence, cyber-security, robotics etc.). Also, there are some areas where further clarification of certain concepts (such as the meaning of defect, damage, product, producer, and the burden of proof) is required. The overall principle of “strict liability” (producer is responsible for defective products whether the defect is their fault or not) will remain unchanged.
In addition, the Commission intends to look more carefully at certain types of products, such as pharmaceuticals and refurbished products, which may affect the performance of the Directive, and also alter the fair distribution of costs between producers and consumers.
In terms of next steps, a Commission guidance on the implementation of the Product Liability Directive and also a report on potential gaps in the liability and safety frameworks in the face of emerging technologies are expected in mid-2019. In the meantime, the Commission has launched an expert group on liability to explore the impact of new technologies on the wider liability framework.
Following the publication of the proposal on screening of foreign direct investments (FDI) into the EU in September 2017, the Parliament’s draft report was adopted in the International Trade Committee (INTA) of the European Parliament on 25 May, and subsequently tabled for adoption at the 11-14 June plenary sitting. The Council adopted its compromise proposal on 13 June, thereby receiving the mandate from COREPER to start the trialogue negotiations with the European Parliament.
These negotiations will start on 10 July and will cover the type of the coordination and information exchange mechanism, the extent and timelines of disclosure obligations of investors and EU governments, investor definitions and the list of sectors in the scope. The European Parliament and some Member States are very keen on closing this file by the end of the current legislative term.
As a reminder, the proposal in screening of FDI is aimed at setting up a mechanism for cooperation between Member States and the Commission to screen FDI and exchange information on the basis of public order and security. Member States must inform other Member States and the Commission about any FDI that is under screening within the framework of their national screening mechanisms. This proposal is part of the broader Trade and Investment Package published on 14 September 2017.
The EU has launched legal proceedings in the World Trade Organisation (WTO) against Chinese legislation that undermines the intellectual property rights of European companies. European companies coming to China are forced to grant ownership or usage rights of their technology to domestic Chinese entities and are deprived of the ability to freely negotiate market-based terms in technology transfer agreements.
The case initiated by the EU targets specific provisions under the Chinese regulation on import and export of technologies (known as “TIER”) and the regulation on Chinese-foreign equity joint ventures (known as “JV Regulation”) that discriminate against non-Chinese companies and treat them worse than domestic ones. The EU considers that these provisions violate WTO obligations to treat foreign companies on an equal footing with domestic ones, and to protect intellectual property like patents and undisclosed business information.
Since 22 June, the European Commission is applying rebalancing duties on US products to react to the US measures on EU steel and aluminium. You can access here (see annex I of the Regulation) the list of products, the value of which is estimated to be up to €2.8 billion of trade. Rebalancing duties could be applied within 3 years to a second list of goods (see annex II of the Regulation). We attach the European Commission’s press release for further information.
In parallel, the European Commission launched legal proceedings against the US at the WTO on 1 June. The Commission is also investigating the possibility of safeguard action to protect the European market from disruptions caused by the diversion of steel from the United States market. An investigation was launched on 26 March and the Commission has nine months to decide whether safeguard measures would be necessary. If the investigation confirms the necessity for swift action, such a decision could be taken by summer.
Finally, as regards aluminium, the European Commission has put in place a surveillance system for imports of aluminium to be prepared in case action is required in that sector.
The European Commission has issued a Guide to the Comprehensive Economic and Trade Agreement (CETA) signed with Canada.
On 18 June, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström together with Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Trade Minister of Australia Steven Ciobo officially launched negotiations for a comprehensive and ambitious trade agreement between the EU and Australia.
The EU is already Australia’s second biggest trade partner. Bilateral trade in goods between the EU and Australia has risen steadily in recent years, reaching almost €48 billion last year. The sectors which make up the bulk of EU exports to Australia are transport equipment, machinery and appliances, chemicals, food, and services. Bilateral trade in services is around €28 billion. The agreement could increase trade in goods between the two partners by over a third.
The European Union and Mexico have reached a new agreement on trade, part of a broader, modernised EU-Mexico Global Agreement. Practically all trade in goods between the EU and Mexico will now be duty-free. Simpler customs procedures will further benefit the EU’s industry, including in sectors like machinery and transport equipment. More information about the text is available here.
On 21 June, Commissioner for Trade Cecilia Malmström and New Zealand’s Minister for Trade David Parker officially launched talks for a comprehensive and ambitious trade agreement.
Bilateral trade in goods between the EU and New Zealand stood at €8.7 billion last year. The sectors which make up the bulk of EU exports to New Zealand are manufactured goods like transport equipment, and machinery and appliances, as well as chemicals, plastics, food, and services. In addition, a further €4.4 billion is exchanged in services (2016). The EU is New Zealand’s third biggest trade partner and the agreement could increase trade in goods by almost 50%, or by one third if both goods and services are considered.
Commissioner Malmström and Vietnamese Minister for Trade and Industry Trần Tuấn Anh agreed on a final text for the EU-Vietnam trade agreement, formally concluding the legal review of the document. In a meeting held in Brussels on 25 June, they also concluded discussions on an Investment Protection Agreement (IPA).
Vietnam has become the EU’s second biggest trading partner in the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) after Singapore and ahead of Malaysia, with trade worth € 47.6 billion in 2017.
The trade agreement will eliminate nearly all tariffs (over 99%). Vietnam will liberalise 65% of import duties on EU exports to Vietnam at entry into force, with the remainder of duties being gradually eliminated over a 10-year period.
The Commission will now translate the trade agreement text into the other 22 EU official languages and launch the legal review of the IPA text, paving the way towards the signature and conclusion of these two agreements.
• Candidate List
On 27 June, ECHA published the updated Candidate List, adding 10 new substances. The list now includes 191 substances of very high concern (SVHC) including lead metal (Pb), Disodium octoborate and Dicyclohexyl phthalate (DCHP). The inclusion of a substance in the Candidate List triggers immediate communication requirements in the supply chain (see summary here). As from the moment of inclusion in the Candidate List, suppliers of articles containing more than 0.1% by weight of a substance of very concern (SVHC) must inform their customers down the supply chain, and, upon demand, the general public no later than 45 days.
The Pb entry is significant as it is used in a wide variety of applications in mechanical industries. Pb is likely to be identified as a priority substance for inclusion in the Authorisation list (REACH Annex XIV) due to high volume uses, as well as consumer and worker exposure. During the ECHA Member States Committee in June, industry representatives called for strengthening the existing legislation for updating workplace limit values. Several Member States shared this position, and they are likely to consider other more appropriate risk management options than authorisation.
Annex XVII REACH was amended in April to restrict the use of NMP. NMP has broad industrial uses and applications for engineering industries: used in cooling liquids in refrigeration, water treatment products, in coatings, adhesives, sealants, and as an intermediate in the manufacturing of other products (see more here). The substance shall not be placed on the market in a concentration greater than 0.3% after 9 May 2020, with longer transition periods for uses as a solvent or reactant in the process of coating wires.
The registry of restriction intentions has been updated to include most notably perfluorohexane-1-sulphonic acid and its salts and lead chromate pigments, due to potential threats to human health and the environment. The restriction dossiers are due by 12 April 2019.
ECHA has launched a public consultation on a report on a request to include an additional derogation for the restriction on PFOA, its salts and related substances. The consultation is open until 20 August 2018.
Ten new authorisations have been published in the Official Journal for the following substances: 1,2-Dichloroethane (EDC), sodium dichromate, chromium trioxide, and Bis(2-methoxyethyl) ether (Diglyme). You may find the full list of authorisation decisions here.
ECHA has launched a public consultation on four phthalates (DEHP, DBP, BBP and DIBP). These substances are already on the Candidate List, and their entries have been updated to reflect endocrine disrupting properties with negative effects on human health and the environment. The Commission intends to amend their current entries in the Authorisation list later this year. The public consultation is targeted at specific sectors with uses that may not be covered by the generic exemptions. The deadline for comment is 6 August 2018.
• Registration deadline
The 10-year registration period closed on 31 May with 21,551 substances registered. ECHA now has until the end of August to review whether all the submitted registrations are complete and their payments are in order. Furthermore, ECHA has made available statistics on the registrations.
The Director’s Contact Group (DCG), an informal platform of ECHA, the European Commission and industry associations, has asked industry for its continued cooperation for phase-in substances after the registration deadline to comply with post-deadline legal obligations: a) regularly updating registration dossier, b) coordinating joint responses to regulatory requests, and c) managing data and sharing costs with new joining registrants. See the full recommendation here.
• REACH Review
On 11 June, the European Commission hosted a stakeholder conference on the REACH Review. The majority of the speakers agreed that although REACH had been a success there were still challenges to address. The key challenges identified were:
a) the length of restriction and authorisation procedures and the associated costs,
b) missing information or lack of up-to-date information on registration dossiers and the need for stronger enforcement,
c) need to level the playing field with imported products and
d) need to provide more support for SMEs.
Member States and stakeholders have asked the Commission for further clarity on concrete actions and timelines for the 16 actions listed in the REACH Review Report. The Commission will issue more concrete proposals in the autumn.
The EU Observatory for Nanomaterials (EUON) has been updated to include two new databases: NanoData and eNanoMapper. NanoData is mainly targeted at consumers and includes information on nanomaterials in products, research projects and publications, and provides statistics. The eNanoMapper is one of the largest databases on nanomaterial toxicological properties. The content is available in 23 languages.
• Restricted substances
Sweden submitted a proposal to restrict medium-chained chlorinated paraffins (MCCP) under the RoHS Directive in June 2018 (see restriction proposal here). MCCPs are used as plasticisers and flame retardants, mainly in PVC cables in network and household appliances.
As a reminder, MCCPs are also assessed in the Öko Institut study on the RoHS Directive launched in January 2018. This study assesses the possible restriction of 7 substances. However, the European Commission did not communicate yet on how they will proceed on the Swedish proposal to restrict the use of MCCPs.
• RoHS exemptions renewal
The European Commission renewed a series of RoHS exemptions related to the use of lead in May 2018 (see OJ L 123 here). Exemptions 6(a)(b)(c), 7(a), 7(c)-I, 24 & 34, which expired in 2016, allow manufacturers to use lead for specific applications until 2021. For example, these exemptions authorise the use of lead as an alloying element in steel, aluminium, copper or in high melting temperature solders.
As regards the second batch of ‘Pack 9’ (exemptions 7(c)-II, 7(c)-IV, 8(b), 15, 21, 29, 32 and 37), the publication of their renewal is expected in September 2018.
In addition, the Commission published a draft proposal allowing the use of lead in bearings and bushes (exemption number 42) in June 2018. This would be applicable for combustion engine installed in non-road mobile equipment for professional use, such as mobile air compressors, welding equipment and cranes.
The new exemption 42 targets equipment falling into the RoHS scope in July 2019, i.e. Category 11. It will be valid for 5 years, i.e. until July 2014, and can be renewed upon request. The proposal is available here. We expect the exemption to be finally adopted and published in the Official Journal by the end of the year.
As a reminder, the European Commission launched a study on the “WEEE Compliance Promotion Exercise”. The purpose of the study was to review and compare WEEE management policies in the EU Member States. Based on their analysis, the study provides recommendations for further improvement in WEEE management, amongst which we would like to highlight:
a) intensifying control procedures by the competent authorities,
b) reinforcing the monitoring and traceability procedures for WEEE,
c) informing all actors in the extended producer responsibility (EPR) system about the implications linked to the shift to the open scope of the Directive (entering into force August 2018),
d) requiring financial transparency of WEEE management systems, and
e) implementing eco-modulation of producer fees, i.e. the more polluting the product is the more producers need to pay for their waste treatment.
The final report has been published and includes country specific factsheets, including targeted policy recommendations for those countries (see Annex A). The Commission has planned a follow-up study on the eight best-performing countries to analyse best-practices.
Lastly, the Commission has launched a tender for a study on “quality standards for the treatment of WEEE”. The study will help the Commission with the potential preparation of an implementing act laying down minimum quality standards for the treatment of WEEE, and for the drafting of a delegated act laying down the criteria for the assessment of equivalent conditions for the treatment of WEEE outside the EU.
Council Conclusions on the Circular Economy
The Council adopted on 25 June conclusions on “Delivering on the EU Action Plan for the Circular Economy”. They were adopted in the context of the “mini-package” published in January and address the Plastics Strategy, the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation and the monitoring framework.
As regards the Plastics Strategy, the Council called for speeding up the development of quality standards for plastics waste and recycled plastic, and on the need to explore the potential applications of bio-based plastic production. Moreover, the Commission is empowered to propose further regulatory actions if the pledging campaign submissions (Annex 3 of the Plastics Strategy) do not reach the quantitative target.
On the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation the Council called on closer cooperation between Member States, the Commission and ECHA to define the substances of concern to be eliminated in products and waste. It urged the Commission to develop concrete actions to remove barriers, grant derogations in specific cases, and promote the uptake of secondary raw materials. Furthermore, it noted that imported products containing restricted substances should not be authorised in the EU in order to ensure a level-playing field.
Lastly, the Council requested the Commission to present an annual report on the progress made on the implementation of the Circular Economy Action plan, and to improve or develop new indicators to measure the progress.
On 16 May the own-initiative draft report by MEP Mark Demesmaker (ECR, BE) was discussed in the ENVI Committee. The key points of the report are: a) product design should be based on circularity, b) need to create a market for recycled plastics (improving quality standards, developing incentives for products with recycled content), c) preventing plastic waste generation (banning or limiting single-use plastics and microplastics, and promoting the uptake of bio-plastics), and d) increasing global efforts to address this issue.
The report was voted in the ENVI Committee on 10 July, and its final adoption is foreseen during the September Plenary session. As a reminder, the own initiative report does not set legally binding requirements but provides recommendations.
Interface between chemical, product and waste legislation
The ENVI Committee adopted on 20 June a draft motion for a resolution on the interface between chemical, product and waste legislation. One of the key elements of the motion is the elimination of hazardous substances in product cycles, so that these substances do not enter recycling streams, thus hindering progress towards achieving the circular economy.
Furthermore, primary and secondary raw materials should be held to the same standards and enforcement should be improved. Additionally, there should be increased access to information for consumers. This motion will next be voted in the September Plenary session.
Product Policy Framework
The European Commission has published a roadmap for the development of an “EU Product Policy Framework contributing to the Circular Economy”. This initiative aims to identify shortcomings and areas of improvement of existing EU product legislation, and potentially develop new actions and instruments to improve different aspects of policies, thus facilitating the attainment of the Circular Economy objectives.
The main targets of this initiative are:
a) developing options for products with low-circularity – i.e. products that cannot be repaired, upgraded or recycled easily-,
b) identify and propose policy actions where relevant for products with high circularity potential that are not currently covered, or only partially covered by existing tools,
c) enhance synergies of policies targeting the same products,
d) improve the utilisation of the opportunities afforded by increased digitisation, and
e) empower consumers by increasing transparency throughout the value chain.
The Commission is expected to launch a public consultation during the summer months, and to host a conference in the autumn 2018. More targeted stakeholder consultations of sectors affected by this initiative will take place.
On 14 June the revised Waste Framework Directive (2018/851/EU) (WFD) was published in the Official Journal, and the amended specific waste streams: ELV, Batteries and WEEE (2018/849/EU), Landfills (2018/850/EU) and Packaging Waste (2018/852/EU).
An outstanding issue in the new Waste Framework Directive was the inclusion of a database on hazardous substances to be developed by ECHA by 5 January 2020. According to the legislation (see article 9 of the WFD), any manufacturer or importer of equipment or component is required to provide the information pursuant to Article 33(1) of REACH, i.e. communication on the presence of SVHC above 0.1% w/w, to ECHA, as from 5 January 2021. During the CARACAL meeting on 27 June, ECHA declared that they were developing a series of scenarios with differing degrees of ambition.
During the discussion Member States expressed support for harmonised submissions, but they still need to reach a consensus on what information to request, how to ensure that it will be useful for waste operators, and how to avoid duplication and multiple submissions. The outstanding challenges are the lack of an impact assessment to verify the added value of this proposal and the budgetary allocation to bring it about.
The Commission has published the results of the consultation on the evaluation of the Waste Shipment Regulation (1013/2006/EC) (see here). According to the majority of respondents, the Regulation is still relevant. And it has been effective in protecting the environment and helping the EU comply with the Basel Convention.
However, respondents rated poorly the ability to achieve consistent waste rules in the EU, the adaptation of the waste sector to technological progress and the prevention and detection of illegal waste shipments.
The WSR requires the Commission to evaluate it by December 2020. In this context, the Commission launched a study on the WSR evaluation in 2017 which is expected to be finalised by October 2018 – the second stakeholder meeting will take place in September.
The public consultation on the evaluation of the 7th EAP is still ongoing and the deadline for comments is 26 July. The evaluation is focusing on the “structure and strategic role” of the 7th EAP in contributing to environmental policy.
After the public consultation closes, the Commission will conduct more targeted consultations with stakeholders and Member States. A final report on the evaluation of the 7th EAP is foreseen for the first half of 2019.
The Consultation Forum is meeting on 13 July to discuss the development of the EPREL database. As a reminder, the revised Energy Labelling Regulation (2017/1369), established the obligation for manufacturers to upload product information sheets and energy labels into the database before placing these products on the market.
It appears that the implementation phase will start during the summer months, or shortly thereafter. The Commission has shared with selected stakeholder’s mock-ups of the interface of the database and has issued a Q&A document based on the feedback from stakeholders.
Furthermore, the project team is working on linking the EPREL database with a phone application for consumers named PocketWatt, where product information linked to the energy label can be shown by scanning a QR code. The development of PocketWatt has been co-funded by Horizon 2020 and the project is expected to be finalised by March 2019. It will then be handed off to the Commission.
On 31 May the European Parliament adopted the own-initiative report of MEP Frederique Ries on the implementation of the Ecodesign Directive. The report will subsequently be used for the upcoming revision of the Ecodesign Directive after the new Commission leadership is appointed after the 2019 elections.
As a reminder, in the context of increasing requests to include criteria on resource efficiency, reparability, recyclability, etc., the JRC is conducting a study to develop a scoring system for product reparability. This study is exploratory, but the results may lead in the future to the implementation of a graphic label. The JRC held the first stakeholder meeting on 26 June in Seville to discuss their preliminary findings in a working document; the deadline for comments is 27 July. The JRC will hold a second stakeholder meeting in November in Brussels, and the final report is expected to be published by the end of 2018.
Space heaters, ENER Lot 1:
The draft final report of the review study is foreseen to be made available in September 2018 and the final report as from January 2019. Please be reminded that the scope of the study covers space and combination heaters with a rated output above 400kW. Additionally, the European Commission has made available a guideline on the ecodesign and energy labelling requirements for this product group.
Small air conditioners, ENER Lot 10:
The final report has been published. DG Energy is planning on hosting a Consultation Forum meeting before the end of 2018, or early 2019. Initial reactions to the report highlight that the proposed energy efficiency classes are too difficult to be reached, and that the threshold level for class A products should be lowered.
Professional refrigerated storage cabinets, blast cabinets, condensing units and process chillers, ENTR Lot 12:
The European Commission published an FAQ for this product group. The main purpose is to provide guidance on the scope of Regulations 2015/1094 on the energy labelling requirements of professional refrigerated storage cabinets and 2015/1095 on the ecodesign requirements for the products falling under this Lot.
Fans, ENER Lot 1:
The Regulatory Scrutiny Board rejected the Impact Assessment on fans. As a next step, DG Energy must review and resubmit the impact assessment to the board.
Lighting products, ENER Lots 8, 9 and 19:
The European Commission is currently revising all ecodesign and energy labelling measures applying to lighting products, with the purpose of merging them into one piece of legislation. The draft regulations published at the end of 2017 suggested removing “special purpose products” exemptions, and foresee exclusions for signaling applications and products for motor vehicles. Industry requests to also exclude lighting products for non-road mobile machinery have been successful and the exclusion will be inserted in the revised Commission’s proposal to be published within the next months.
Standby and off-mode and networked standby losses, ENER Lots 6 and 26:
The study team from Viegand Maagoe assisting the European Commission in the development of the impact assessment have circulated a second survey to assess their assumptions on the compliance costs of upcoming possible requirements and impacts for SMEs. The deadline for comments was 12 July.
Electric Motors, ENER Lot 30:
At the end of August, the European Commission will launch a 3-week inter-service consultation, after which it will revise the draft text. The notification to the WTO and a public consultation are expected for the month of October. Member States in the Regulatory Committee are expected to vote in December 2018. The publication of the Ecodesign measures on electric motors is foreseen for early 2019.
Compressors, ENER Lot 31:
The inception impact assessment on low pressure and oil free compressors will be published by the end of the summer or in September, and will be subject to a four-week public consultation.
Servers and data storage products, ENER Lot 26:
The European Commission has launched a public consultation on the draft regulation covering these products. The deadline for comments is 31 July. Of interest, the air-conditioning and ventilation equipment for these installations are not covered by the scope of the regulation. Furthermore, the Commission has notified the draft regulation to the WTO.
High Pressure Cleaners:
The JRC has issued a second questionnaire for stakeholders on the technical specifications of professional HPC equipment. Comments are expected by the end of August.
After six rounds of trilogue negotiations the institutions announced a compromise agreement on 19 June. The key new provisions of the agreement are:
a) a non-binding headline target of 32.5% energy savings by 2030 with an upwards review clause by 2023 in case of substantial cost reductions,
b) strengthening rules on consumer access to energy consumption information through the provisions on metering and billing, and
c) Member States are required to develop transparent and publicly available national rules on the allocation of the cost of heating, cooling and hot water consumption in multi-apartment and multi-purpose buildings with collective systems for such services.
A code of conduct exists for member representation on outside bodies and is as follows: –
You have agreed to represent your trade association. Please try to follow these practice guidelines applying to all member representatives who are appointed to attend meetings with outside bodies:
1. Notify the relevant Association staff member of the dates and times of scheduled meetings.
2. Provide the relevant Association staff member with copies of any agendas, background papers or draft final documents sent to you direct by the conveners of meetings so that (a) the Association is aware of the subjects to be discussed and (b) comments and advice on the agenda topics can be given to you by other members and the member executive. If the outside body insists on confidentiality for its documents, the Director General should be informed.
3. If you are unable to attend a scheduled meeting, inform the relevant senior association staff member as early as possible.
4. Inevitably your company interest will remain important but remember that when representing the association at outside meetings you have a broader responsibility that includes consideration and representation of the interests of other members, including those of your commercial competitors.
5. If a point is put to you at a meeting on which you know or believe that opinion in the association is divided, make sure that your comments to the meeting are qualified.
6. When acting on behalf of the association exercise care and good judgement in providing outside persons or organisations with opinions or comment purporting to be an industry point of view.
7. Unless briefed in advance by an association committee or in discussion with the appropriate senior staff member, do not enter into formal agreement on any proposition put to you by the outside meeting, without the reservation that the agreement will need subsequent ratification – there may be implications that you have not taken into consideration.
8. As soon as possible after the meeting notify the appropriate senior association staff member of any decisions taken and/or the general direction of the discussions held. Preferably this should be done in a memorandum but if this not convenient, make a telephone call to keep the Association up-to-date.
9. If you have been appointed by an association committee be prepared to give that committee an oral account of your representation at its next scheduled meeting.
10. When the outside committee is disbanded, or you resign from its membership, make sure that the association is informed.