EU agree ecolabel revisions for moribund scheme

A revised framework for the EU's ecolabel scheme to promote greener consumption was finally agreed by EU governments last week. The scheme will now apply to both products and services meeting its criteria for environmental friendliness, and use of the label will be open to suppliers and retailers as well as manufacturers of goods.

The revision of the ecolabel regulations comes at a time when the scheme itself is moribund. Although criteria for awarding labels in 11 product groups were adopted or formally proposed in the nine months to October last year, no further product group criteria have been developed since then and only two more are due. Work on another three has been suspended and commission resources for the scheme have been slashed.

The EU ecolabelling program was launched throughout the European Union to encourage the manufacturing of less environmentally damaging products, giving industry an incentive to produce cleaner, greener goods. The programme provides consumers with information to help make purchasing decisions and the ecolabel is awarded to products which have a reduced impact on the environment. All EU member states participate in the program on a voluntary basis only.

Ecolabelling schemes have been criticised for creating trade discrimination in defiance of trade rules established under the WTO.

There are already existing national and regional ecolabels within the EU, principally the Blue Angel (Germany) and Nordic Swan (Scandinavia). MEPs voted to allow national schemes to continue to operate in parallel with the EU’s flower.

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