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2003 EN Official Journal of the European Union C 95/27

Opinion of the European Economic and Social Committee on the ‘Proposal for a Regulation of
the European Parliament and of the Council amending Regulation (EC) No. 2037/2000 as regards
the critical uses and export of halons, the export of products and equipment containing
chlorofluorocarbons and controls on bromochloromethane’

(COM(2002) 642 final — 2002/0268 (COD))

(2003/C 95/08)

On 10 December 2003 the Council decided to consult the European Economic and Social Committee,
under Article 175 of the Treaty establishing the European Community, on the above-mentioned proposal.

The Section for Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment, which was responsible for
preparing the Committee’s work on the subject, adopted its opinion on 4 February 2003. The rapporteur
was Mr Braghin.

At its 397th plenary session on 26 and 27 February 2003 (meeting of 26 February), the European
Economic and Social Committee adopted the following opinion by 111 votes in favour and three

1. Introduction 1.4. The proposed amendments follow the path previously

laid down by the EU, which over the last ten years has
consistently led the field in terms of both legislative develop-
ments and implementation, mindful that lasting and sustain-
1.1. Although the present proposal to amend Regulation able growth requires not only a preventive approach to
(EC) No 2037/2000 is of limited scope, it represents further product and manufacturing design, but also an understanding
progress in Community moves to phase out substances of the effects around the world.
scientifically recognised as responsible for the reduction of the
ozone layer in the stratosphere and the ensuing increase in
ultraviolet radiation.

2. Summary of the Commission’s proposal

1.2. Since the adoption in 1987 of the Montreal Protocol,
which laid down initial steps to control the production and
use of CFCs and halons, the EU has consistently been at the
forefront in efforts to phase out and/or replace all products 2.1. In applying Regulation (EC) No 2037/2000, a number
demonstrated by studies to be responsible for destroying the of issues have emerged and have been discussed with the
ozone layer. The EESC has always given its political backing to Member States in the relevant management committee. The
the Community strategy and has helped — occasionally by proposed amendments are intended to resolve these issues
means of critical comment — to pursue the priority objective with a view to the effective and safe implementation of the
of maintaining a consistently high level of environmental regulation.
protection while acknowledging the need to safeguard Europe’s
productive fabric (1).
2.2. The first amendment, regarding the controlled substan-
ce halon, establishes timeframes for reducing the use of halons
for critical uses, where justified, when reviewing Annex VII.
1.3. The course taken by Community legislation, and the
way it has been applied in individual cases, have so far enabled
European industry to maintain its world competitiveness: the
progressive removal, often in anticipation, of potentially 2.3. The second amendment concerns the export of halon:
hazardous substances has been matched by increased scientific from 1 January 2004 export would be allowed only for the
research and the ensuing use of alternative products, allowing critical uses set out in Annex VII, the purpose being to ensure
safeguards for production to be combined with a higher level that exports are carried out safely.
of environmental protection.

2.4. The third amendment aims to stop the growing export

trade in used refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment to
developing countries, since these countries do not possess
( 1) Opinions: in OJ C 49, 24.2.1992; in OJ C 287, 4.11.1992; in OJ adequate destruction facilities and the CFCs contained in the
C 201, 26.7.1993; in OJ C 52, 19.2.1994; and NAT/002 — in OJ equipment could ultimately leak into the atmosphere and
C 40, 15.2.1999, pp. 34-37. damage the ozone layer.
C 95/28 EN Official Journal of the European Union 23.4.2003

2.4.1. At the same time, other products containing insulat- not only as part of the future proposal on integrated product
ing foam or integral skin foam produced with CFCs, present in policy, but also as a separate aspect in its own right.
particular in second hand aircraft and vehicles, are to be
explicitly excluded from the prohibition under Article 11, 3.4. In the final version of the regulation, the discrepancy
thereby clarifying the scope of the export ban. between the wording of Article 1(3)(c) and that of
Article 1(4)(a) should be removed, since the texts they refer to
2.5. The fourth amendment concerns bromochlorome- are worded identically.
thane, the new substance currently referred to in Annex II. The
3.5. The EESC’s view, put forward in many previous
Commission proposes to insert it in Annex I, Group III, in
opinions, is that means should be sought to encourage
order to apply the same provisions as for other controlled
substances. substitution and that finance should be available for detailed
scientific research programmes geared to alternative, non-
polluting products, so that the environmental ‘added value’ of
such products can be verified over a period of time.
3. Comments on the content and outlook
3.5.1. The EESC welcomes the fact that the candidate
3.1. The EESC supports the proposed amendments, which countries have already received proper support in applying
are consistent with the environmental objective of Regulation Regulation No 2037/2000, and that they have signed the
(EC) No 2037/2000, and set out to provide practical solutions Montreal Protocol: these are preconditions for consistent and
for the safer and more effective achievement of this objective. uniform application in an enlarged EU.

3.6. In the light of the above, and of the new situation

3.2. In particular the EESC welcomes the approach regard- which will exist in 2004 regarding both the new export
ing exports, which are to be subject to specific authorisations arrangements from 1 January of that year and, even more
and strict controls. The purpose is to reduce the amount of importantly, EU enlargement, the Committee wonders whether
substances harmful to the ozone layer released into the the time has come for a thorough-going review leading to
atmosphere, including in countries outside the EU and which a new regulation, rather than continuing with successive
are not signatories to the Montreal Protocol. amendments.

3.3. The EESC is aware of the difficulties encountered in 3.7. The EESC would once again call upon the Commission
disposing of foams containing CFCs, which are present in a to pursue the basic objective of involving those countries
range of widely-used items other than refrigerators and which have not signed the Montreal Protocol in this global
freezers, such as vehicles and aircraft, with the risk that critical drive. The protocol is now achieving major results in a number
substances may be released into the atmosphere in the course of developing countries, where work is already under way to
of final destruction. Although an adequate solution is not at phase out the use of CFCs and replace them immediately with
present available, it is hoped that this issue will be addressed more environmentally friendly technologies.

Brussels, 26 February 2003.

The President
of the European Economic and Social Committee