IPP "can be compatible with trade rules"

Nordic Council finds no need for conflict over product-oriented environmental measures

A new generation of product-oriented environmental measures does not need to cause trade arguments, according to a Nordic Council of Ministers report. The study shows "there is not necessarily a conflict," though there may be "points of interference" over which legal clarification is still needed, according to the body's integrated product policy (IPP) working group.

The working group's report comes shortly before Sweden takes over the EU presidency for six months with a pledge to put IPP at the forefront of European environmental policy making (ENDS Daily 13 January). Product policies are also expected to figure prominently in the EU's sixth environmental action programme (ENDS Daily 30 March), while an IPP communication is expected from the European Commission shortly.

The Nordic Council of Ministers' report focuses on the relationship between national product-oriented environmental measures and EU and international trade rules; it does not cover the broader, but equally contentious, relationship between international trade and environmental rules.

Four specific types of product policies are analysed: "traditional" product regulations such as bans and restrictions on specific products or raw materials; environmental taxes and charges; recycling requirements, including take-back obligations and deposit and return schemes; and compulsory green purchasing under public procurement rules.

Trade rows have erupted over most of these in various guises, including the EU-Canadian dispute over the former's decision to ban white asbestos (chrysotile) and EU-US tensions over European directives on the management of scrap cars and electrical and electronic equipment.

Follow Up:
Nordic Council of Ministers, tel: +45 33 96 02 00. The report is entitled "Trade Regulations and Product-Oriented Environmental Measures".

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