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Step up eco-labelling, design and management

MEPs backed Commission plans to make the voluntary EU Ecolabel ("EU flower") system for environment-friendly products, less costly and bureaucratic to use. The label has so far been awarded to over 3,000 products such as detergents, paper and shoes.

But they questioned whether it should also apply to processed food, fisheries and aquaculture products, as the Commission also proposes, asking it first to consider whether reliable environmental criteria can be set for food and drink.

To meet high expectations of quality and chemical safety, the Ecolabel should not in principle be awarded to products or substances of very high concern (e.g. very toxic, toxic, or carcinogenic), say MEPs. But the Commission should consider whether award criteria for Ecolabel product groups could include a reduction in animal testing, as well as environmental performance ones (such as impact on climate change, energy and resource consumption and waste generation), adds the committee.

Proper funding to promote the Ecolabel and pay for awareness-raising campaigns, must be provided by the
Commission and Member States, says the committee, adding that Member States must also lay down targets for the public procurement of Ecolabelled products.

The co-decision report by Salvatore Tatarella (UEN, IT) was adopted with 51 votes in favour and two abstentions.

The committee backed a Commission proposal to widen the scope of the 2005 Eco-design directive (which allows the Commission to set design requirements for energy-using products such as boilers, computers, televisions, industrial fans and light bulbs), to include all energy-related products, which are products that do not consume energy during use but have an indirect impact on energy consumption, such as water-using devices or windows.

But MEPs rejected a proposal by the rapporteur, Magor Imre Csibi (ALDE, RO), to extend the directive's scope to all products except for means of transport for persons or goods (24 votes in favour, but 27 against). If this had been accepted, then it would have enabled the Commission to set eco-design requirements e.g. for food and clothes. Instead, MEPs asked the Commission to table proposals, before 2012, to extend the directive to include "non energy-related products" where there is "significant potential for reducing their environmental impacts throughout their whole life-cycle".

The co-decision report was adopted with 45 votes in favour, 4 against and 3 abstentions.

MEPs backed a proposal to simplify the EU's voluntary Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS - which helps organisations to identify, monitor, measure and report on their environmental impacts) in order to attract new participants. The co-decision report by Linda Mc Avan (PES, UK) was adopted with 52 votes in favour, one against and one abstention.

by S. C.
01 march 2009, Food & Fun > Nature