28.9.2004   

EN

Official Journal of the European Union

C 241/20


Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste’

(COM(2004) 127 final – 2004/0045 (COD))

(2004/C 241/06)

On 5 March 2004, the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee, under Article 95 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the ‘Proposal for a Directive of the European Parliament and of the Council amending Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste’.

The Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, which was responsible for preparing the Committee's work on this subject, adopted its opinion on 6 May 2004. The rapporteur was Mr Adams.

At its 409th plenary session (meeting of 2 June 2004), the European Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 180 votes to three, with 13 abstentions:

1.   Introduction

1.1

The purpose of the proposal is to address the problem of applying the legislation on Packaging and Packaging Waste (1) to the acceding States. Legislation adopted after 1 November 2002 — in this case the amending legislation was only approved in February 2004 — is not covered by the Act of Accession. The Commission has concluded that the most sensible way to proceed was to submit this amending proposal, under Article 95 of the Treaty of Accession.

1.2

Various mechanisms for informing and consulting with acceding States on such legislation were agreed at the European Council in December 2002. All acceding States except Cyprus (2) informed the Commission in February 2003 that they would need a further transitional period before applying the original Directive. This proposal for an amending Directive follows subsequent extensive bilateral technical consultations with all ten acceding States.

1.3

The current Directive (3) aims to prevent or minimise the impact of packaging and packaging waste on the environment through recovery and recycling targets. The new targets agreed are substantially higher than those for 2001 and must be achieved by the end of 2008. The Directive contains specific targets for plastics, metals, paper/board and glass. The specific targets will improve the overall level of environmental protection in the EU. They will also reduce existing distortions of competition, lead to a higher degree of harmonisation within the internal market and give more planning security for investments in recycling infrastructure.

1.4

The proposal sets the date for acceding States to have achieved the targets as not later than 31 December 2012.

2.   General comments

2.1

This proposed amending Directive is a necessary piece of legislation setting a realistic compliance date for acceding States.

2.2

In its opinion of 29 May 2002 (4) the EESC fully supported the original Directive as an important driving force in encouraging national legislation on recycling and recovery of packaging waste.

3.   Specific comments

3.1

The EESC notes that the average volume of packaging waste produced by the acceding States is 87 kg per capita compared with 169 kg per capita in existing Member States. Although there might be an expectation that packaging consumption will increase in acceding States under the influence of the single market the EESC would urge that every effort is made to minimise packaging at source where consistent with safety and hygiene.

3.2

Each Member State will continue to be responsible for the systems under which the recycling targets are achieved. A wide range of requirements, processes, incentives and disincentives are in place across the Community and the EESC urges that work continues by the Commission on establishing best practice and the promulgation of exemplar case studies.

4.   Conclusions

The Committee welcomes and fully supports the proposal as an important driving force in encouraging national legislation to introduce systems for selective collection in the acceding States.

Brussels, 2 June 2004.

The President

of the European Economic and Social Committee

Roger BRIESCH


(1)  Directive 94/62/EC as amended by Directive 2004/12/EC of 11.2.2004, OJ L 47 of 18.2.2004 p. 26-32.

(2)  Cyprus did not require transitional arrangements.

(3)  Directive 2004/12/EC of 11.2.2004, OJ L 47 of 18.2.2004, p. 26-32.

(4)  CESE 681/2002, OJ C 221 of 17.9.2002, p. 31-36.