The EESC calls for more precise and harmonised conditions for a more sustainable life cycle for batteries in the EU

At its March plenary session, the EESC adopted an opinion which proposes more precise and operational governance arrangements and instruments to implement the new battery regulation with the involvement of all stakeholders. In the EESC's view, this could contribute to developing a Union framework covering the entire battery life cycle in the EU.

On 10 December 2020, the European Commission presented a proposal for a Regulation on batteries and waste batteries. The proposal is in line with the European Green Deal, which promotes decarbonisation of the EU economy to achieve climate neutrality by 2050.

The opinion adopted by the EESC supports the measures set out in the Regulation: with its new battery sustainability standards, the Commission will also globally promote the green transition and establish a blueprint for more initiatives to come under its sustainable product policy.

However, in its opinion the EESC calls for more precise and functional governance instruments and arrangements to implement the new regulation, with all stakeholders involved. In the words of rapporteur Bruno Choix: "The proposed regulation aims to develop a Union framework covering the entire battery life cycle, including harmonised and more ambitious rules for batteries, components, waste batteries and recycled materials. Through this regulation the Commission intends to promote innovation as well as the development and implementation of the technological expertise of the EU".

The co-rapporteur, Frank Uhlig, explained that this support may take a variety of forms: ''As regards the implementation of due diligence to monitor the battery supply chain, we demand full transparency in the implementation of this monitoring system. The recycling, renovation and reuse of batteries help to secure the upstream value chain. Supporting research and development on ecodesign is essential''.

The EESC recommends addressing challenges in this area by strengthening the role and resources of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) and the European Agency for Safety and Health at Work (OSHA).

The EESC proposes that the "end of use" concept be introduced in addition to "end of life" in order to promote the reuse, renovation or second life and recycling of batteries.

Batteries placed on the EU market should become sustainable, high-performing and safe along their entire life cycle. This means batteries that are produced with the lowest possible environmental impact, using materials obtained in full compliance with human rights as well as with social and ecological standards. Batteries have to be long-lasting and safe, and at the end of their life they should be repurposed, remanufactured or recycled, feeding valuable materials back into the economy. (ks)