Lindahl law firm has taken part in the Swedish Bar Association’s work to produce a consultation response on the European Commission’s proposal for a new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation. The referral opinion was published on the Government website on 13 June 2022 and can be read here (in Swedish).
The Commission’s proposal forms part of a legislative package within the framework of the European Green Deal. The proposal primarily aims to achieve a climate-neutral, resource-efficient, circular economy that reduces waste in the product area. If the proposal is passed, it will replace the current Ecodesign Directive (Directive 2009/125/EC), which only imposes ecodesign requirements on energy-related products. The proposed Regulation will extend the application of ecodesign requirements to a wider range of products and will cover the entire life cycle of the products.
The proposed Regulation establishes a legal framework for the Commission’s work on developing specific delegated acts for products or product groups. To ensure that the Commission’s work will be predictable for the operators in the market, the Commission will draw up and continuously update a prioritisation plan for the products to be subject to ecodesign requirements. The Swedish Bar Association considers that the work on the prioritisation plan needs to be more predictable than in the contents of the proposal.
The ecodesign requirements that can be imposed on products/product groups will cover all the economic operators that handle a product in the internal market throughout the life cycle of the product. Examples of ecodesign requirements include performance, repairability, reusability, energy efficiency and recyclability requirements. The Commission will also be able to establish information requirements to make it easier for the operators and consumers handling the products during their life cycle to know, among other things, how to handle the products safely, how they can be repaired and recycled and what hazardous substances they contain. The Commission it is also able to impose a ban on operators in the market from destroying unsold products in cases where such has a considerable impact on the environment.
What is also interesting is that the Commission is able to introduce specific, obligatory requirements that public operators must meet when procuring products. Only voluntary criteria for environmentally-friendly public procurement (EU GPP criteria) existed in the past. The aim is for public influence on the market to increase demand for sustainable products and thus increase the impact of the Regulation.
Several referral bodies have pointed out that although the Regulation will become directly applicable as valid law once it has been adopted, it should be transposed into Swedish law through separate Swedish provisions in order to ensure that the provisions are predictable. This is in line with the Swedish Bar Association’s view of the extensive obligations set out in the proposal, which need to become more predictable. Predictability is a prerequisite to enable the Member States to impose sufficient and proportionate sanctions to ensure compliance with the Regulation.
All referral bodies share the view that the Regulation is expected to have a major impact on the internal market and comparisons have been made with the REACH Regulation (1907/2006).
We will of course continue to monitor the EU’s work on the adoption of a Regulation on ecodesign requirements and we will certainly have reason to return to this matter. Do you want to know more or did the article give rise to other questions? You are very welcome to contact any of us or your normal contact person at Lindahl.