In a first trial run, the Commission launches a new mechanism to improve the regulatory environment on legislation concerning batteries.
The European Union has announced it is launching a new process of public consultation on the revision of the Directive on batteries and accumulators. In a plan published on 25 February, the Commission invited stakeholders and Member States to comment on a series of questions by April 2003.
The consultation is taking place as part of a Commission attempt to broaden the legislative process through a so-called extended impact assessment. This process aims at improving the quality of Commission proposals and simplifying the regulatory environment. The impact assessment procedure will be implemented gradually and will become fully operational in 2004. The Batteries Directive was chosen as a first trial run for this new procedure.
Currently, the management of spent batteries and accumulators is regulated by three Directives, aimed at harmonising Member State rules on the management of one-time-use batteries and accumulators containing heavy metals. According to the Commission, these three pieces of legislation have failed to yield the desired results in terms of environmental quality and functioning of the internal market. Furthermore, the Commission notes, that the Directives are riddled with inconsistencies. They note three main areas in particular:
- the limited scope of the Directives, which touches only on batteries and accumulators containing certain types of metals, but not all, thereby reducing the effective waste management of all batteries;
- the fact that the Directives only limit the marketing of batteries and accumulators containing more than 0.0005 per cent of mercury from January 2001, although batteries of all types emit heavy metals when not properly recycled;
- the disparities between national systems for collecting and recycling systems for batteries.
Stakeholders and Member States will address these issues through specific questions on collection and recycling targets among many other areas of interest outlined by the Commission in this new form of public consultation.