After the EU Commission presented proposals for mandatory sustainability criteria for batteries at the end of 2020, the Commission’s text with amendments is expected to be adopted by the EU Parliament in March 2022.
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MEP Pascal Canfin revealed the accelerated timeline in an interview with Euractiv. The regulation could be finally launched this year – which would give the industry around four years to prepare.
In addition to substantial changes to the Commission’s 2020 proposal, such as the inclusion of batteries for electric cycles and scooters in the regulation, Canfin said the entry into force would be accelerated by six months from 1 July 2027 to 1 January 2027.
Canfin is considered “Macron’s man in Brussels.” His comments should therefore also be seen against the background that France still holds the EU Council presidency until the end of June and wants to implement the regulation in its own interests by then. Canfin announced that the Environment Committee would vote on the draft on 10 Feburary. Here he said: “We have agreed, by a very large majority, on compromises, which allows us to imagine that the March plenary will not modify our proposals.”
One of the compromises was apparently the pace at which the measures must be implemented. The entry into force will be accelerated by six months. Only batteries that meet a minimum environmental standard will be accepted on 1 January 2027, instead of 1 July 2027. If the regulation is still adopted in 2022 as expected, the European battery industry would have four years to prepare. “It will also allow importers to take this new standard into account to improve their practices,” Canfin explained.
Canfin says that the Environment Committee will not turn the Commission’s draft on its head. He stressed it is not a matter of “changing the major balances of the Commission’s text, which is already good.” He elaborated that this will be the first law in the world that establishes environmental criteria for the market entry of electric batteries, saying that Europe will become the world leader in environmental regulation of battery production along the entire value chain. This will be tough competition since China has already made some headway on that front with several waves of regulations since 2018, the latest and most extensive of which were made in December last year.
In addition to the aforementioned expansion to include batteries for e-bikes and e-scooters, for example, the duty of care will also apply to battery production. This means that multinational companies must ensure that human rights and environmental protection requirements are respected throughout their entire supply chain. This is still to be drafted and the Commission will propose a text by the end of March.
Update 14 February 2022
The EU Parliament’s Environment Committee has now adopted its position on the proposed rules. The report is expected to be adopted by the plenary in March, as the EU Parliament now officially announced.
“For the first time in European legislation, the Battery Regulation lays down a holistic set of rules to govern an entire product life cycle, from the design phase to end-of-life,” said Rapporteur Simona Bonafè, “This creates a new approach to boost the circularity of batteries and introduces new sustainability standards that should become a benchmark for the entire global battery market. Batteries are a key technology for fostering sustainable mobility and for storing renewable energy. To achieve the objectives of the Green Deal and to attract investment, co-legislators need to move for a swift adoption of clear and ambitious rules and timelines.”
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