The EU packaging value chain calls on the EU institutions to protect the integrity of the Single Market - September 2020
The undersigned industry associations have come together under the Packaging Chain Forum to voice their common concerns about the integrity of the Single Market for packaging and packaged goods. Alongside some recent developments at the EU level, we observe a worrying trend of divergent national provisions. The risk is further erosion of the fundamental principles of the Single Market and the undermining of the EU sustainability goals for a climate neutral, circular and competitive European economy.
The Green Deal and the Circular Economy Action Plan 2.0 intend to create the conditions for the EU industry to lead the transformation towards a sustainable economy. Rigorous implementation and enforcement of the Single Market principles are key to ensure harmonised legal requirements facilitating economies of scale, long-term investments and strengthening the business case for innovative products and technologies. This is not only a precondition for the free movements of packaged goods and packaging materials across the EU, but it is essential to strengthen the implementation of packaging and packaging waste targets in all Member States and to encourage the development of fully integrated EU markets for secondary raw materials.
Clearly defined and harmonised EU provisions are the necessary first step to avoid the adoption of diverging and disproportionate national measures, which result in overly restrictive national requirements and EU market fragmentation. However, core elements of EU provisions on packaging (e.g. definitions, scope, criteria to impose restrictions or grant exemptions) are often ambiguous and insufficiently defined in the main body of EU legislation and they must be further clarified through the lengthy adoption of non-binding Commission guidelines (e.g. EU guidelines on EPR fees modulation and SUP product definitions). As well as jeopardising the EU Green Deal’s ambitions, this negatively impacts legal certainty, the effective enforcement of environmental targets and the free movement of packaging and packaged goods. Core provisions should instead be clearly enshrined in the main EU legislative text or in its implementing acts.
Secondly, when implementing and transposing EU law on packaging and packaged goods, national legislators must ensure compliance with the Single Market principles and with article 18 of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive (PPWD). Our longstanding concerns are especially relevant today, in the context of the upcoming review of the PPWD as well as the transposition and implementation of the revised Waste Framework Directive (WFD), the PPWD, the Single-Use Plastics Directive (SUP) and of other EU packaging policies.
The further erosion of the Single Market for packaging and packaged goods can and must be prevented through joint commitments and actions by the European Commission and the Member States.
We call on Member States to:
- Respect the Single Market principles when transposing EU law and refrain from introducing national legislation that would hinder the free movement of packaging and packaged goods across EU internal borders or create unfair market distortions against producers from other Member States.
- Scrutinise, i.e. via the TRIS consultation procedure, the transposition of EU laws by other Member States and oppose the introduction of national legislation which could threaten the integrity of the Single Market.
- Notify their draft national legislation to the European Commission, in compliance with EU law1, and adapt or withdraw it if the Commission considers it incompatible with the Single Market principles.
We call on the European Commission to:
- Choose the appropriate legal basis to protect the free movement of packaging and packaged goods across the EU. In light of the upcoming review of the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive, the Single Market legal basis (Article 114 TFEU) must be upheld.
- Ensure that EU rules on packaging and packaged goods are designed in compliance with the Single Market principles and support their harmonised implementation across the EU. This requires enshrining core principles, targets and clear definitions in the body of the legislation or its implementing acts, thus preventing diverging national measures from occurring in the first place.
- As the guardian of the Treaties, systematically intervene against any national provisions on packaging and packaged goods that fail to comply with the Single Market principles, independently of the type of material or application targeted.
- Duly screen, via the TRIS consultation procedure, the Single Market implications of any national measures to ensure that they do not introduce restrictions to the free movement of packaging and packaged goods, which would be disproportionate and/or unnecessary from an environmental protection standpoint and could cause unfair EU market distortions.
1 Directive (EU) 2015/1535 laying down a procedure for the provision of information in the field of technical regulations and of rules on Information Society services.