MEP reopens EU car recycling wounds

European Parliament advisor calls for producer responsibility for all cars from 2003

The European Parliament's advisor on the EU's draft directive on scrap car recycling yesterday rejected a compromise struck by governments aimed at giving manufacturers longer to prepare for the full effects of the law. The proposal will incense car makers and could re-start a row between EU member states.

Reporting to the parliament for its second reading of the end-of-life vehicles directive, rapporteur Karl-Heinz Florenz said that free collection and recycling schemes should be in place for all cars from 2003. This is the date originally proposed by the European Commission, but EU governments pushed it back to 2006 in July (ENDS Daily 22 July).

If adopted by the parliament's plenary session early next year, the move would force governments to revisit the compromise finally made after months of wrangling during Germany's EU presidency - see for example (ENDS Daily 11 March) (ENDS Daily 23 June).

The plan to make manufacturers responsible for paying the recycling costs of "existing" cars has been the most politically contentious issue of the dossier. Industry association Acea has consistently opposed the measure and has considered challenging it in the European Court after receiving legal advice that its "retroactive" elements are illegal.

On the other hand, producers' concerns will be assuaged by Mr Florenz's reiteration of a call to avoid all the costs of recycling landing on car makers alone. The proposal is another challenge to the common position reached by ministers, which states that that manufacturers should "meet all, or a significant part" of the costs of collecting and recycling cars at the end of their lives.

Mr Florenz says that member states should be given flexibility to establish their own incentive systems involving contributions from carmakers, dealers and owners which would, "by means of competition, produce conditions under which last owners may have...vehicles collected free of charge". Manufacturers and car owners could each pay around 35% of the costs of recycling, he suggested, with the owners' share levied along with car insurance premiums.

Without this flexibility, Mr Florenz believes, small and medium enterprises in the scrap car sector could lose out and competition could be distorted if manufacturers were in a "monopoly position" to decide how the recycling scheme should work. The report will be voted on by the parliament's environment committee in January and in the plenary in February.

Follow Up:
European Parliament, tel: +32 2 284 2111.

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