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EU Update – Newsletter March 2020

23/03/2020

1.) BREXIT

The UK officially left the EU at midnight on 1 February 2020 and is therefore no longer an EU Member State. During the transition period, which started from this date and is provisionally due to last until 31 December 2020, all EU legislation will still apply to the UK, and the country will remain a member of the Single Market and the Customs Union.  Brexit reduces the number of EU Member States to 27.

2.) THE EUROPEAN GREEN DEAL

Ursula von der Leyen, President of the European Commission (EC), gained Parliamentary support in July 2019 by promising to put climate action at the heart of the next European Commission and present a European Green Deal (EGD) within her first 100 days. Given the one-month delay in taking office, the Commission published its Communication on the European Green Deal after only 10 days, on 11 December 2019.

The Communication includes an initial roadmap of the key policies and measures needed to achieve the European Green Deal, which is to be updated as needs evolve and the policy responses are formulated. An accompanying annex provides an indicative timeline of expected policies, initiatives, and strategies.

Key recent developments under the European Green Deal:

a.) The European Climate Law:  On 4 March 2020 the European Commission presented its proposal for a European Climate Law – legislation that will legally bind the EU to its 2050 carbon neutrality objective.

Key points of interest for our industry:

  • Following a comprehensive impact assessment, the Commission will propose a new 2030 greenhouse gas (GHG) reduction target and set a 2030-2050 trajectory for GHG reduction.
  • By June 2021 the Commission will review, and where necessary propose to revise, all relevant policy instruments to achieve the additional emission reductions for 2030.
  • By September 2023, and every five years thereafter, the Commission will assess the consistency of EU and national measures with the climate-neutrality objective and the 2030-2050 trajectory.

b.) The European Industrial Strategy:  On 10 March 2020 the European Commission presented the new European Industrial Strategy with the aim of making Europe’s businesses future-ready and achieving the objective of a globally competitive, green, and digital Europe. The package, consisting of an industrial strategy and other papers on SMEs and the internal market, identifies building a more circular economy as one of the key actions to address the twin challenges of going green (and digital) while maintaining economic competitiveness. The strategy consists of the following initiatives:

  1. A New Industrial Strategy for Europe
  2. A SME Strategy for a sustainable and digital Europe
  3. Identifying and addressing barriers to the single market
  4. Action Plan for better implementation and enforcement of the single market rules

Key points of interest for our industry:

  • There will also be a new chemicals strategy for sustainability that will help better protect people and the environment against hazardous chemicals and encourage innovation in the sector, with the aim of developing safe and sustainable alternatives.
  • The Commission plans to enhance Europe’s industrial and strategic autonomy by securing the supply of critical raw materials through an Action Plan on Critical Raw Materials.

c.) The Circular Economy Action Plan: on 11 March 2020, the European Commission adopted a Circular Economy Action Plan as part of the EGD. The Plan focuses on the design and production of a circular economy, with the aim of ensuring that resources are kept in circulation for as long as possible.

Key points of interest for our industry:

  • In 2021 the Commission will put forward a legislative proposal for a sustainable product policy initiative to improve product durability, reusability, upgradability, and reparability, addressing the presence of hazardous chemicals in products and increasing their energy and resource efficiency.
  • The Commission will consider the most effective measures to ensure the collection and environmentally sound treatment of waste oils. This means the review of the rules on proper treatment of waste oils is expected in 2022.
  • The Commission will this year announce further measures to further support the transition to a circular economy through the Skills Agenda, the forthcoming Action Plan for Social Economy, and the Pact for Skills.

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