EU defers decision on German packaging law

Move to close long-running infringement procedure now to be addressed in late February

European packaging industry organisations are claiming a minor lobbying victory after the European Commission decided to postpone for a month a decision on whether to continue a thorny legal infringement case against Germany over waste packaging law.

Senior advisors to commissioners had been due to meet tomorrow to discuss a move by the Commission's environment directorate to terminate legal action underway for over four years against Germany's legal requirement that at least 72% of beverage containers on the market should be refillable (ENDS Daily 25 January). The meeting has now been put back to 24 February, ENDS Daily understands.

The issue of Germany's refill quota is now a central political issue for the European packaging industry, according to Bob Schmitz of association Beverage Can Makers Europe (BCME). Sensitive political discussions are underway in Germany on whether to revise the law, under pressure from falling refill sales (ENDS Daily 20 November 1998) but also from EU pressure. If the Commission closed its infringement action against Germany now, Mr Schmitz told ENDS Daily, "it would be a terrible boost for the other side".

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111; BCME, tel: +32 2 761 2371.

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