April 7, 2016
Edie reported on the proposed enforcement of the upcoming circular economy package in Europe, with Fulvia Raffaeli, Deputy Head of the DG Grow unit that is leading implementation of the circular economy in Europe, telling delegates at an event that it will be “backed by tougher European Commission enforcement than seen under previous administrations”. The rules would be the “first step to adapting the economy to a future of finite resources and a booming population”.
The package is still set to be subject to approval by both the European parliament and the Council of Ministers, but Raffaeli pointed out that the EU’s current leadership was “more committed” to making sure legislation is enforced than previous administrations. Despite this, Giovanni La Via, Chairman of the European parliament’s Environment Committee, warned that the package “would not be allowed to harm the international competitiveness of European industry”.
In terms of enforcement and punishment, and in this case infringement of the rules, the EU can launch legal actions against members states “that fail to observe EU law”, which can “lead to large fines”, though many have “continuously ignored EU legislation […] despite the threat of infringement cases”. Last March, for example, every member state except Malta was sued “over failures to put the Energy Efficiency Directive into place”.
Raffaelli, speaking at the European Plastic Pipes and Fittings Association Forum in Brussels, noted that “enforcement is crucial. In DG Grow, and the whole Commission, we are all working very hard on different infringement cases. Pragmatism, enforcement and implementation are much more present than before in the discussion. We need to discuss this with different member states and we are working on that”.
Industries have also been asked to “help police the new framework” by providing the EU with “detailed technical information”, Raffaelli adding that while the redrawn package’s lower targets for waste recycling and other areas was “pragmatic”, the broader “vision” for the circular economy was still “ambitious”, and because targets are now more realistic, stronger enforcement is “justified”.
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