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European Appliance Makers Urging Delay on Product Eco-Design Law
Mar 29, 2004
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European appliance makers and retailers have launched a rearguard action against the draft energy-using products directive in a bid to prevent the European Union's (EU's) law-making apparatus from finalizing the legislation before it shuts down for 4 months in May 2004.

In separate statements, white goods body Ceced, pan-industry group Orgalime, and retail lobby Eurocommerce have all warned that efforts by MEPs and governments to reach a quick first-reading deal could fatally damage "one of the most ambitious, complex and far-reaching pieces of legislation which our industries have faced in the last 20 years".

"The institutions seem to be trying to rush it through without proper discussion or fully appreciating its impact on our industry," Orgalime's Adrian Harris complained. Firms were worried about "a law that will allow bureaucratic interference in their designs and manufacturing processes," he said.

Ceced and Eurocommerce were "appalled by the blind rush to adopt the rules." The proposals "still leave too much room for interpretation", they said. "This would lead to... measures that are not enforceable by national authorities and would allow for unfair competition." This might actually penalize greener products, they claim.

A fair prospect of a quick deal emerged last week after MEPs approved a compromise package of changes to the European Commission's (EC) proposal. In the meantime, the council of ministers is approaching its own endgame. Recent drafts of its position show several member states willing to proceed quickly, though Italy, Germany, Sweden, Denmark, and Austria are more cautious.

One outcome of the MEPs' deliberations is particularly worrying industry -- a change in legal base to incorporate the EU treaty's environment article as well as its single market article. In a letter to the parliament, Amcham, the lobbying outfit for American firms operating in Europe, said this could prompt "inconsistent or additional national rules". (Environment Daily)

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