On 10 March, the European Parliament (EP) officially adopted its position on a regulation on batteries and waste batteries. The proposal for the revision of the current Batteries regulation, proposed by the European Commission in December 2020, aims at providing Europe with standards for the entire life cycle of batteries, from design to battery production and end-of-life, but also strengthening the requirements for collection and recycling.
The EP overall welcomes the provisions and requirements proposed by the European Commission. The Members of the EP (MEPs) underlined the crucial role of the batteries in the transition to a circular and climate-neutral economy and for the EU’s strategic autonomy and competitiveness.
The EP position stresses the importance of ensuring that the whole battery value chain complies with due diligence obligations and respect of human rights. The industry would therefore need to address all risks relating to the sourcing, processing and trading of raw materials, chemicals and secondary raw materials. The MEPs also propose stronger requirements on sustainability, performance and labelling of the batteries.
One week later, the Council of the European Union – consisting of the 27 Member states’ Environment ministers – agreed on a ‘general approach’ on the Batteries regulation. One of the main points of attention is the inclusion of a member states’ right of initiative to restrict the use of hazardous chemicals in batteries. Environment ministers called this general approach ambitious and balanced at the same time, while ensuring flexibility to fit with the field of battery technology which is constantly and rapidly evolving.
The text adopted by the EP and the Council’s ‘general approach” will serve as starting positions in the negotiations on the final shape of the legislation. As co-legislators, the EP and the Council need to agree on a common text to be formally adopted and implemented at the European level.
France, which is chairing the Council of the EU until July, made the Batteries regulation one of its presidency priorities. France’s ambition is to speed up the negotiations between all institutions to have a regulation adopted by both sides by the end of 2022. The European Parliament also expressed its wish to see the regulation to be adopted as soon as possible. Discussion between the two co-legislating institutions will start shortly. The challenge is to give industry time to organise so it can meet the EU’s new requirements, while, at the same time, moving as quickly as possible.
During the debate held in Strasbourg at the EP Plenary, the European Commissioner for Environment Virginjius Sinkevičius welcomed the strong support on the proposal among the co-legislators. However, he reminded that the Commission proposed a text carefully balancing ambitious goals, burden on economic operators and feasibility of implementing its provisions and measures. He called for the co-legislators to keep a realistic approach that could be put at risk if ambitions are being levelled up.
If you want to know more about the content of the Commission’s proposal, you can read our article dedicated to this topic.