EU to push new standards for ‘greenest’ car batteries on earth

EU Commission Vice President Maros Sefcovic addresses a press conference on the 2020 Strategic Foresight report titled 'Charting the course towards a more resilient Europe' in Brussels, Belgium, 09 September 2020. [EPA-EFE/OLIVIER HOSLET]

The European Commission will table new EU-wide regulations this autumn to ensure that batteries manufactured or imported into Europe are “the greenest on this planet,” a top EU official told EURACTIV.

The new regulation will impose “mandatory requirements for the greenest, safest and most sustainable batteries on this planet,” said Maroš Šefčovič, the European Commission’s vice-president in charge of foresight and interinstitutional relations.

The new EU-wide rules will be tabled “this autumn” and follow a fast track procedure so that they can be in place “as of 2023 onwards,” Šefčovič told EURACTIV in an exclusive interview.

Germany, which currently holds the EU’s six-month rotating presidency, is “very much interested” in fast-tracking the new rules, the top official said.

Europe’s new battery regulation will also seek to ensure that EU-made batteries use raw materials that are traceable and follow strict ecological and labour norms, Šefčovič added, saying those standards were important for European consumers who are increasingly turning to electric mobility.

Battery rules review to spark legislative domino-effect

The EU’s grand ambitions to corner a significant chunk of the multi-billion-euro global battery market will take a step forward this year, when the bloc’s executive branch reviews the rules that underpin the manufacturing and recycling of power packs.

Electric cars are expected to treble their market share in Europe this year as a result of the bloc’s car CO2 targets, according to analysis published earlier this month by green campaign group Transport & Environment. EU standards are driving electric cars towards 10% of sales, and 15% in 2021, the group added.

Building on Europe’s fast-growing market, the European Commission now wants to ensure all batteries made or imported in the EU meet the strictest green criteria in the world, with a new “battery passport” showing the origin of materials used in the manufacturing process.

And foreign battery manufacturers who fail to comply with the new EU rules will face a carbon border tax to ensure they do not undercut European makers, he said.

“With the battery regulation, we are set to ensure a level playing field so that all batteries placed on the EU market, regardless of their origin, comply with the same stringent sustainability and end-of-life requirements,” Šefčovič  said.

“We want to give our trading partners a choice: either you introduce carbon pricing at home, like we have done here in Europe with the Emissions Trading Scheme, or there will be a carbon adjustment mechanism to level up the price of CO2,” he warned.

EU could ban dirty battery imports, says Commission VP

Batteries that do not meet rigorous green standards could be banned from the European market, Commission Vice-President Maroš Šefčovič warned on Monday (9 December), as the EU executive approved €3.2 billion of state aid for some home-grown projects.

The European Commission launched a “European battery alliance” in 2017, bringing together carmakers, chemical groups and engineering firms, with the aim of building a battery value chain in Europe that is able to compete with Asian and US manufacturers.

As part of Europe’s push for cleaner vehicles, the European Investment Bank has provided finance to build a series of Tesla-inspired battery ‘gigafactories’ on the old continent, the first one of which will be built in Sweden by start-up Northvolt.

The first gigafactories in Europe are expected to be operational in 2021 or 2022, Šefčovič said “and we would like all batteries used in Europe to be manufactured according to those high requirements.”

> Read the full interview with Maros Sefcovic here.

Europe is 'closing the gap' on battery manufacturing, Northvolt says

Swedish battery maker Northvolt says Europe is catching up with Asian rivals in the manufacturing of car batteries but warns that more efforts are needed to build a complete supply chain “ecosystem” in the EU.

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