EU in a muddle over banned substance wavers

An EU decision allowing motor manufacturers to use banned substances in some spare parts is to be repealed a month after it was adopted. The European Commission has been forced into the embarrassing climbdown by MEPs, who complained they were not consulted.

In late January the Commission published new rules under the EU’s end-of-life vehicles directive. These would permit carmakers to use four banned heavy metals in spare parts destined for use in cars sold before the ban came into effect in July 2003.

Despite having a right of scrutiny the parliament was not informed – apparently because the draft law was sent to the wrong email address. Environment Daily understands the Commission will now resubmit the plan in late spring as part of a wider review of the ELV directive.

Meanwhile, Commission attempts to amend a similar substance ban in the electrical and electronic goods (E&E) sector face parliamentary objections that could even lead to MEPs mounting a legal challenge.

Last year the Commission proposed a long list of exemptions to substance bans under the RoHS directive where it deemed that alternatives were not available. But the parliament’s Greens/EFA political group believes that in several cases there are in fact suitable substitutes.

It has drafted a resolution claiming that the EU decision goes beyond what is technically necessary, and that the European Commission has accordingly “exceeded its implementing powers”. Party officials are confident that the resolution will win majority political support.

If passed, such a parliamentary resolution would be non-binding. However, if the parliament felt the Commission and council of ministers were ignoring its views it could take the issue to the European court of justice.

Republished with permission of Environment Daily

Action inspires action. Stay ahead of the curve with sustainability and energy newsletters from edie