European Commission Planning to Add More Obligations on Entrepreneurs
At the end of this year, the European Commission is planning to launch an initiative that establishes, which measures should be realised in order to ensure more sustainable products on the market. Several of the measures considered at the moment would, however, mean excess administrative burden on entrepreneurs that might not be proportionate considering the goal to be achieved.
About the initiative
The topic primarily concerns the entrepreneurs (e. g. manufacturers, importers, marketers) who bring electronics, information and communication technology, textile, furniture and high impact interim products such as steel, cement and chemicals to the EU market.
The Commission wishes to establish additional obligations or other measures for the operators in order to ensure that the EU market has products that are more durable, can be reused more and can be repaired more easily, there would be less hazardous chemicals in products and the energy and resource efficiency of products would increase.
The Chamber sent its positions on the measures considered to the Ministry of the Environment who will send the Estonian positions together with the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communication to the European Commission.
Considered measures do not take into account the difference of product groups and the added burden as compared to the benefits may be unreasonable
In the Chamber’s opinion, the goals set by the Commission are reasonable and welcome, but the majority of measures suggested for their achievement are rather questionable. These might not be proportional measures and the burden added to the operators as compared to the benefits gained may be unreasonable. In case of several proposed obligations, there is also the doubt if in case of various product groups, entrepreneurs would be able to fulfil them with reasonable efforts.
Only really necessary data should be collected from operators
In relation to the Commission’s plan to develop a digital product passport which contains information on a product, which should facilitate all aspects related to the sustainable management of the product, the Chamber commented that first there should be clarity how the digital product passport will exist and function in the future, and also who and how will be sending information there. Only then it will be possible to finally assess the impact on entrepreneurs and whether it is reasonable.
At the moment, implementing a digital product passport seems rather complicated and the majority of the information that the Commission wishes to collect from operators seems like excess bureaucracy, which might not be necessary at all for consumers and other users of the product, and thereby there may be excess confusion. Thus, it is important that only really relevant information that operators can disclose with reasonable efforts, would be subject to disclosure.
The Chamber is against the plan to request information from producers/importers on the environmental footprint of the product, social conditions in the value chain (e. g. employment and salary conditions, respect of human rights), origin of product ingredients and material sources. The manufacturing process of a product, sourcing of materials etc may involve several countries and several different suppliers and it is not thinkable that importers can set out every time what is the environmental footprint of the product within the entire chain, if human rights were respected, where do the elements or materials of the product come from etc. Setting out the main ingredients of a product is reasonable, but setting out the list of absolutely all materials and substances used and their accurate amounts is not. In case of some products, this list can be really long and it is doubtable if the benefit of disclosing the information justifies the administrative burden on producers/importers.
Read about the considered measures HERE.