Provisional agreement found on Ecodesign Regulation

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The third inter-institutional negotiation meeting on the new Ecodesign for Sustainable Products Regulation (ESPR) that took place in the night between 4 and 5 December yielded a provisional agreement. The Regulation’s ambition is to build on the success of the existing EU Ecodesign rules which currently only apply to energy-related products and extend the rules to other product groups. The new Regulation will aim at improving various aspects of the products throughout their lifecycle to make them more durable and reliable, easier to reuse, upgrade, repair and recycle, and less resource intensive.

The Commission published its proposal on 30 March 2022, while the Council of the EU reached its General Approach in May 2023, preceding the European Parliament, which adopted its final position in June 2023. The final agreement brokered last week has not been circulated yet, but an overview of the final compromise can be drawn up on the basis of the Council’s press release and the Parliament’s press release.

Scope

The scope of the Regulation is wide with only a few sectors exempted such as food, feed, and medicinal products, or motor vehicles when already regulated in other pieces of legislation. The text empowers the European Commission to adopt future requirements for new categories of products or technologies through delegated acts. While the general deadline for the application of this secondary legislation is set at 18 months after their publication, the Commission may decide to shorten the deadline in certain cases.

Priority products

Negotiators agreed that the European Commission should prioritise a number of product groups, as proposed by the European Parliament, in its working plan. These priority products notably include textiles such as garments and footwear, but also iron, steel, aluminium, furniture, tyres, detergents, paints, lubricants and chemicals. The first working plan, including the priority products, is to be adopted no later than nine months after the entry into force of the Regulation.

Digital Product Passport (DPP)

The Digital Product Passport (DPP) will contain, inter alia, up-to-date information regarding the product’s composition, its rate of recycled content and its energy efficiency, the availability of spare parts and its recyclability (paving the way for future repairability index for electronics). The DPP will facilitate the movement and traceability of products within the Single Market. Moreover, the European Commission will manage a public web portal allowing consumers to search and compare information included in product passports.

Prohibition of destruction of unsold goods

Negotiators agreed to directly ban the destruction of unsold apparel, clothing accessories and footwear, two years after the entry into force of the law. This obligation will apply six years for medium-sized enterprises, while small and micro enterprises will be exempted from this ban. A win for the Parliament, the Commission is bound to consider banning the destruction of unsold small electronics within three years from the entry into force of the Regulation. In the future, the European Commission may add additional categories to the list of unsold products for which a prohibition against destruction will be mandated through delegated acts. Furthermore, economic operators that destroy unsold goods have to report annually on the quantities and the reasons for discarding products.

Early obsolescence

The Regulation also addresses products parameters linked with “premature obsolescence”, meaning when a product becomes non-functional or less performant due to product design features, unavailability of consumables and spare parts, lack of software updates.

Obligations of online marketplaces

The provisional agreement aligns the obligations of online marketplaces to the Digital Services Act (DSA), in terms of cooperation with Market Surveillance Authorities (MSA). MSAs will have the power to order an online marketplace to remove illegal content and online marketplaces will have to establish a single contact point meant for communication with and Members States and MSAs.

The co-legislators are expected to conclude technical negotiations on the provisionally approved text in the coming weeks. The draft Regulation will then need to be formally endorsed by the Council of Ministers and the European Parliament’s Plenary in early 2024.

If you have any questions or wish to know more about the topic, please feel free to contact us at  info@ecommerce-europe.eu.

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