EEB urges more muscular EU product policy

Green groups warn of "business as usual" without strong Commission leadership

The environmental promise of an EU integrated product policy (IPP) will be lost without strong central leadership and an emphasis on binding instruments, green federation the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) has warned.

To avoid "business as usual," says EEB in a position paper, the European Commission must ensure "ambitious targets...better legislation and strong enforcement". By instead styling itself as a facilitator, it warns, the EU executive risks handing over power to "conservative" Brussels trade associations. By emphasising consensus, it risks inaction every time there is disagreement.

Responding to the Commission's recent IPP green paper (ENDS Daily 8 February), EEB welcomes a proposal for product environmental "data sheets". But it rejects their development through the standardisation process and calls for a new legal requirement for all producers to present data sheets before marketing a new product. The group also emphasises its broader opposition to the use of standardisation in environmental policy making (ENDS Daily 4 May 2000).

Other Commission suggestions for horizontal IPP instruments also get EEB's backing, including measures to green public procurement and introduce sales tax rebates on products carrying the EU ecolabel. The group also calls for a general tax on packaging, application of producer responsibility to more waste streams and an extension of environmental liability principles to products. In all cases, the group suggests that the focus should be to reward innovation and the greenest products available.

In one key respect, the Commission should take its IPP proposals back to the drawing board, says EEB. Policies to improve products' environmental performance are all very well, but won't help to achieve real sustainability if all gains are eaten up by consumption growth. An IPP therefore needs to address this by addressing lifestyle and overall consumption issues, the group argues.

Follow Up:
EEB, tel: +32 2 289 1090, a press release, and the IPP paper. See also the Commission's IPP pages.

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