BATTERIES AND ACCUMULATORS (15494/03)
Letter from Malcolm Wicks MP, Minister
for Energy, Department of Trade and Industry to the Chairman
Further to my letter of 31 July 2005,
I am writing to inform you of the latest position on this proposal.
The European Parliament completed its second
reading of the draft Directive on 13 December 2005 and voted to
maintain a number of key provisions in the Council's Common Position,
all of which were of importance to the UK. This was a good outcome
for the UK and is likely to facilitate early agreement at conciliation,
expected to begin in March/May under the Austrian Presidency.
Among the key provisions upheld were collection
targets for spent portable batteries of 25% of average annual
sales after four years, rising to 45% after eight years; a partial
ban on the marketing of portable nickel-cadmium batteries; with
an exemption for their use in cordless power tools (around 70%
of total sales); and a dual Treaty base for the draft Directive.
The Parliament also adopted a number of other
amendments to the Common Position and, although less significant
for UK, these prevented agreement at Second Reading. Among these
further amendments was a mandatory requirement for distributors
of portable batteries to provide instore collection facilities
for spent product. The UK is opposed to this amendment in its
present form since, if adopted, it would require all retailers
of portable batteries, including corner shops and market stalls,
to collect spent batteries. This would undermine the UK's ability
to take a multi-stakeholder approach to battery collection and
could negate any environmental gains made from the collection
and recycling of spent consumer batteries, I am however aware
that there is some support in the Council for mandatory retailer
takeback from those Member States with established collection
The Parliament further adopted a provision requiring
all batteries in consumer appliances to be readily removable by
the consumer when spent. The UK believes such a requirement is
unnecessary as the Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment (WEEE)
Directive, due to enter into force in the UK in 2006, already
requires the removal of batteries from separately collected appliances.
This view is reflected in the Council.
Other amendments include compulsory provisions
for Member States to promote research and encourage the development
of batteries with improved environmental performance, and new
recycling technologies. I am aware that whilst some Member States
support the principle behind these provisions, a majority of the
Council believe they should be placed in the preamble of the draft
Early indications are that these amendments
are likely to constitute some of the key areas for discussion
14 February 2006
Letter from Malcolm Wicks MP to the Chairman
Further to my letter of 14 February 2006, 1
am writing to inform you of the latest position on this proposal.
On 2 May 2006, the day of the official opening
of conciliation between the Council and European Parliament, regarding
the draft Battery Directive, agreement was reached in the Conciliation
Committee. The agreement must now be formally adopted by the European
Parliament and Council. It is anticipated that this will take
place in July.
As noted in my previous letter, the European
Parliament's second reading of the draft measure represented a
good outcome for the UK, as it upheld a number key provisions
in the Council's Common Position including reasonable collection
targets for portable batteries, limited scope of the partial ban
on nickel-cadmium batteries, and a dual Treaty base for the draft
Directive, all of which were important issues for the Government.
I also highlighted some less significant proposals put forward
by the European Parliament, to which the UK and other Member States
were opposed, which prevented agreement at second reading.
The Austrian Presidency was keen to conclude
negotiations on the dossier, and both the Council and the European
Parliament supported this aim. To this end, delegations were urged
to be flexible in their positions with regards to non-critical
European Parliament amendments. The Joint Text reflects this approach.
In addition to the key provisions mentioned
above, the Joint Text contains a number of new provisions, adopted
by the Council as part of the "package" in conciliation,
Portable batteries to be labelled
with their capacity. The detail of this provision, whose aim is
to inform consumer choice, will be decided through comitology.
The UK saw difficulties with this proposal since battery performance
depends on the appliance in which the cell is used, and measurement
and testing regimes would seem to be necessary. However, other
Member States did not support this position. The UK will work
through the TAC to try to ensure satisfactory design of any labelling
Distributors (including retailers) of portable
batteries to take back spent portable batteries from end users,
at no charge. As stated in my previous letter, the UK was opposed
to this amendment as it could undermine the adoption of a multi-stakeholder
approach to battery collection. However, we secured some flexibility,
permitting Member States with equally effective collection systems
to side-step this provision. As you may be aware, the Government
and Devolved Administrations have commissioned the Waste and Resources
Action Programme (WRAP) to investigate the most cost effective
and environmentally efficient methods for collecting spent portable
batteries. As part of its investigation, WRAP has set up a pilot
kerbside portable battery collection scheme covering some 350,000
households in the UK. It is anticipated that this scheme will
be expanded over the coming months to include retailer take back
and collection at civic amenity sites.
Appliances to be designed to
allow spent batteries to be readily removed. The UK is of the
opinion that this provision is superfluous as the Waste Electrical
and Electronic Equipment (WEEE) Directive already requires the
removal of spent batteries from waste appliances prior to recycling.
Since we feel too that the proposal has the potential to cause
internal market difficulties, my officials have written to the
Commission asking them to develop guidance for Member States.
De minimis rule for small
producers. The UK successfully argued for this provision which
allows Member States to exempt small producers from the financing
requirement of the Directive.
Common information requirements
for producers across all Member States. The UK supported this
provision, as it will reduce the administrative burden on producers.
The Joint Text may not emerge ahead of formal
adoption by the Council. In light of this, I am willing to submit
a copy of the Joint Text (with an Explanatory Memorandum) if the
Committee would find this helpful.
28 June 2006
76 Correspondence with Ministers, 45th Report of
Session 2005-06, HL Paper 243, p 324. Back