As the European Commission prepares a green paper on IPP, now due for publication this April or May, a research project has been commissioned by the German environment ministry. The heart of the project is a study of IPP options being carried out by the Heidelberg institute for ecological economic research. It is due to publish its findings in late spring.
Thomas Becker, responsible for environmental affairs at the association of German industry (BDI), told ENDS Daily that the BDI preferred voluntary agreements to legislation. "Products are so multi-layered and various that we favour special rules and instruments for different areas. We prefer voluntary, flexible measures to hard state intervention." Dr Becker added that there was a preference in Brussels and at national level for cooperation with industry and that the BDI was very open to that.
The research project also encompasses a workshop on perspectives on product-related environmental protection attended by BDI chief Hans-Olaf Henkel, president of the environment agency Andreas Troge and environment minister Jürgen Trittin in Berlin last week. In parallel, a guide including environmental management standards, green labelling and competition law, is being prepared to help small and medium-sized businesses find their way through environmental regulations.
Germany made integrated product policy a focus of its EU presidency term in the first half of last year and was praised by NGOs after focusing the Weimar informal environment council on the subject last May (ENDS Daily 10 May 1999). Since then Sweden has signalled that it will make development of an EU-level IPP a priority during its EU presidency which starts in January (ENDS Daily 13 January).
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