EUROBAT comments on the outcome of the sectoral meetings on the legislative framework for batteries
EUROBAT welcomes the work of the European Commission on the legislative framework for batteries, but we regret to note some problems in the analysis and specific points need to be addressed.
From transport and energy to telecommunications and logistics, batteries will be an essential part of the decarbonisation of a number of sectors and Europe should take the lead in producing sustainable batteries. For this reason, we welcome the fact that DG Environment and DG Internal Market are cooperating on this file to ensure that the objectives of competitiveness and sustainability, or competitiveness through sustainability, are both met.
We also welcome the fact that the proposal on the eco-design of batteries and the revised Batteries Directive will be combined in a single Regulation, to ensure legislative coherence and better regulation, although we regret that the revision process of the End of Life Vehicles Directive has been delayed. There are several points of contact and overlap between the two instruments, and it would have been beneficial to discuss them together for the purposes of coherence.
The new legislative framework for batteries will include several new elements, taking into account the evolution of the market from 2006 and their growing importance. For this reason, it is of utmost importance that the impact assessment carefully evaluates each individual measure for its economic, environmental and social impact, bearing in mind the overall targets of sustainability and the competitiveness of the European industry.
In this regard, even if the discussions we had were fruitful and interesting, we regret to note some general problems in the analysis presented by the consultants. In general, the conclusions presented by the consultant are only preliminary, and the sources and references used by the consultants have not been disclosed.
We also regret the fact that some topics were not discussed: for instance, substance management and restrictions were not addressed. This is not a minor topic, but it is actually one of the key concerns of the industry. Since all batteries use hazardous substances, we believe that moving from a hazard-based to a risk-based approach on chemicals management would deliver important benefits in terms of competitiveness, but also environmental and worker protections. Currently, there is a clear overlap on this topic between the Batteries Directive, the End of Life Vehicles Directive, REACH and Occupational Safety and Health (OSH), which is curbing investments and putting the entire battery industry at risk. We therefore call for the initiation of proper discussions and analysis of this key point for the industry.
Looking at the overall analysis, we would also like to remark that the market analysis used for the study presents several wrong or questionable assumptions. For instance, we read that “there will be a substantial shift from lead acid and nickel-cadmium batteries (with a high recycled content) to Li-ion batteries (with a low recycled content)”. Figures for the industrial lead battery market foresee a contraction from 408,000 in 2020 to 167,000 tonnes/year in 2035.
With this paper, we comment on the outcome of the sectoral meetings on the legislative framework for batteries and outline our observations on specific points that need to be addressed.