Brussels, 8 August 2008 – The action plan presented by the Commission sets out a series of voluntary and obligatory actions to support a coherent and dynamic policy in the EU and internationally, helping to define eco-friendly products, informing the consumer through improved labelling and supporting their purchase through public procurement and fiscal incentives.
More specifically, the action plan lists the initiatives the Commission will undertake in 3 areas:
1. A new product policy
- Energy and resource-efficient consumer products. The Ecodesign Directive presently provides a framework for setting compulsory minimum requirements and voluntary benchmarks for energy-using products. All energy-related products “that do not consume energy during use but have an indirect impact on energy consumption” will also be covered in future.
- Mandatory labelling will indicate relevant environmental parameters for a wider range of products, including energy-using and energy-related products.
- Incentives and public procurement: only products attaining a certain level of energy or environmental performance are eligible for incentives and public procurement at national and EU levels. It will be up to Member States whether and in which form to provide incentives. In addition Member States are recommended to adopt common green procurement practices for goods and services not (yet) covered by the above plan.
- Voluntary eco labelling: the EU Ecolabel scheme will be extended to cover a wider range of products and services, such as food and drink products, and made less costly and bureaucratic.
- Retailers’ responsibility. A Retail Forum will be created (gathering other stakeholders such as producers and consumers’ organisations), that will prepare actions to improve large retailers’ environmental performance, promote the purchase of greener products and better inform consumers.
2. Promoting leaner production
With a view to promoting leaner production, the proposals foresee:
- Developing targets and tools to monitor, benchmark and promote: an Environmental Technology Verification scheme will be established, to support eco-innovation.
- Revising EMAS, the EU’s voluntary eco-management and audit scheme, to increase its uptake, notably among SMEs, by making participation less costly and involving organisations outside the EU.
- Developing an industrial policy for eco-industries by first analysing the barriers to their expansion and to their full uptake by other sectors.
- Promoting environmental performance in SMEs through customized advice.
3. Sustainable consumption and production internationally
In order to promote sustainable products worldwide, the proposals envisage:
- Supporting agreements of industry sectors as part of international climate negotiations
- Promoting and sharing good practice internationally
- Promoting international trade in environmentally friendly goods and services
“The EU has to set an example and prove that industry is capable to contribute vigorously to fight against climate change. Taking up this challenge will create a win-win situation of more growth, more jobs, more environmental protection”, said Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for enterprise and industry policy.