EU ecolabel scheme revision back on the move

Formal Council common position clears the way for a second reading in the European Parliament

Relations between the EU's ecolabel scheme and parallel national initiatives as well as the involvement of interest groups such as environmental NGOs will be two of the main debating points when changes to the regulation underpinning the programme come before parliament for a second reading early next year.

The proposed revision was agreed by environment ministers in June (ENDS Daily 25 June), but formally rubber-stamped as a common position by the Development Council only last week. It satisfies most of the concerns raised by parliament in a first reading in 1998, a Commission official told ENDS Daily.

These were for the scheme to be made more efficient and transparent, for it to be governed by a board established within the EU rather than by a new external organisation as originally proposed and for the right to apply for the label to be extended to services, service suppliers and retailers, as well as manufacturers.

More controversial, under the codecision procedure applying to the dossier, could be securing agreement on the coexistence of EU and national labelling schemes, which was included at the insistence of Nordic and Socialist MEPs after the Parliament split almost 50:50 after the abolition of national schemes was proposed last time round. However, ENDS Daily understands the "difficult political compromise now reached" is unlikely to be overturned.

Some NGOs may also lobby MEPs to demand restoration of a special consultation forum, although the Commission maintains the inclusion of interested parties alongside national competent bodies on the EU board will actually involve them earlier on than under the present system in the process of defining ecolabel criteria.

Follow Up:
EU Council of Ministers, tel: +32 2 285 6111.

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