The EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age

The US Inflation Reduction Act (the IRA) has raised concerns in the EU about the potential impact on international investment – particularly the possibility that such investment will be pulled into the US, rather than directed to the EU and may encourage ‘green industries’ to relocate production to the US. The EU has been working on an appropriate response that would increase the attractiveness of the EU as a green investment destination without breaching either WTO rules or its own State Aid rules.

Continue Reading The EU’s Green Deal Industrial Plan for the Net-Zero Age

The European Parliament and Council are about to adopt an agreed text on a Regulation on Batteries and Waste Batteries (“Sustainable Batteries Regulation” or “SBR”) that will impose a broad range of requirements on the safety, sustainability and circularity of batteries, including batteries that are part of devices (e.g., laptop batteries), industrial batteries (e.g., large stationary storage applications) and means of transport batteries (e.g., car batteries), as well as extended producer responsibility obligations (including waste take back) on producers marketing them.  The SBR is likely to be published in the official journal of the EU within the next couple of months and will repeal and replace the existing EU Directive on Batteries and Waste Batteries.

This post outlines the specific removability and replaceability requirements that the SBR will impose on portable batteries and light means of transport (“LMT”) batteries (e.g., batteries for electric bicycles) marketed in the EU/EEA as of around September/October 2026.  The new requirements will oblige producers of appliances to introduce design changes to their appliances and the batteries they incorporate.  Moreover, clarifying the details of such requirements is likely to create much controversy and debate among the European Commission, Member States and other stakeholders within the next two years.  In effect, the SBR leaves it to the Commission to adopt guidelines interpreting the different removability and replaceability requirements. 

The post also briefly mentions the political compromise that the European Parliament and Council reached on the removability and replaceability of electrical vehicle batteries and “starting, lighting and ignition” (“SLI”) batteries, and its emphasis on ensuring that such batteries be removable and replaceable by “independent professionals” (and not just authorized dealers).

Continue Reading New Removability and Replaceability Requirements for Batteries Marketed in the European Union

The European Union (“EU”) has passed the world’s most far-reaching mandatory environmental, social, and governance (“ESG”) reporting regime.

The Corporate Sustainability Reporting Directive (“CSRD”) will apply to an initial group of large EU companies from 2024 and gradually extend its reach to smaller companies over the course of the following four years. It is ultimately expected to apply to more than 50,000 companies incorporated, listed, or doing business in the EU. Notably, from 2028 the CSRD will apply to non-EU parent companies that generate more than EUR 150M of net turnover in the EU and have at least one EU subsidiary subject to the CSRD (or a local branch of a certain size). (See Appendix for a table with detailed information on the CSRD’s application thresholds and dates.)

Continue Reading EU Mandatory ESG Reporting Takes Shape: CSRD is Passed and EFRAG Adopts Draft ESRS

Last week the European Commission published its long-awaited proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (“Proposed Packaging Regulation” or “proposed Regulation”), and a Plastics Communication on an “EU Policy Framework on Biobased, Biodegradable and Compostable Plastics” (“Plastics Communication”).  The Proposed Packaging Regulation is intended to replace the Packaging and Packaging Waste Directive 94/62 (“Packaging Directive”) and to ensure that all packaging marketed in the EU/EEA is fully recyclable or reusable by 2030.  If adopted, the Proposed Packaging Regulation’s new requirements and restrictions will have a significant impact on industry, distributors, and consumers.  The European Parliament and Council must now consider the proposed Regulation for adoption through the so-called “ordinary legislative procedure,” which will allow for the introduction of amendments and is likely to take at least 18 months.  

This blog post highlights the main changes and new requirements that the Proposed Packaging Regulation would introduce, and outlines the principal recommendations of the Commission’s Plastics Communication.

Continue Reading The Commission unveils its proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation, and provides recommendations on Biobased, Biodegradable and Compostable Plastics

On 6 October 2022, the Council of the European Union adopted a Regulation on an emergency intervention to address high energy prices (the “Regulation”).  The Regulation was published in the Official Journal of the European Union on 7 October. The Regulation has three main elements:

  1. A requirement to reduce electricity consumption by 5% in peak hours;
  2. A measure to return the excess revenues or profits of energy companies to the individual Member States; and
  3. The allocation of proceeds to customers to alleviate retail electricity prices and an extension to Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) of the categories of beneficiaries of a possible Member State intervention in the retail price.

The Regulation’s market intervention is exceptional (albeit in response to an extraordinary geopolitical market disruption).  It will have widespread positive and negative impacts for energy market sellers and buyers.  These circumstances may provoke a range of disputes, transaction (re)structurings or additional compliance obligations that will require expert advice and understanding of the details of the Regulation.

Continue Reading EU Emergency Action on Energy

Gazprom Reduces Supplies Again

Gazprom’s 27 July decision to reduce the gas it supplies through Nord Stream 1 to 33 mcm means it is now delivering just one-fifth of the pipeline’s capacity. This reduction ensures Europe will continue paying (ever higher prices) for (just enough) Russian gas in order to service its day-to-day needs, whilst leaving insufficient extra to fill storage units before the winter (in late June, the Commission mandated that EU gas storage facilities should be 80% full by 1 November). The Gazprom reductions come against the backdrop of a historically hot summer, where consumer demand, including for air conditioning, is significantly higher than normal.[i]

Continue Reading Europe’s Gas Crisis

The European Parliament and Council are in the last stages of the legislative procedure to adopt a Regulation on Batteries and Waste Batteries (“Sustainable Batteries Regulation”), which the European Commission proposed in December 2020.  Among other many requirements, the proposed Sustainable Batteries Regulation will require manufacturers to ensure that the portable batteries contained in their electronic devices are removable and replaceable.  These requirements will apply to a large variety of electronic devices, including household appliances, IT, telecommunications equipment, and medical devices.  They are part of a broader sustainable products package that includes other legislative proposals, such as the Commission proposal for a Regulation on Ecodesign Requirements for Sustainable Products and an upcoming legislative initiative on the right to repair, and will require manufacturers to redesign the electronic devices that they market in the European Union and European Economic Area (“EU/EEA”).

Continue Reading Upcoming EU Removability and Replaceability Requirements on Portable Batteries

On 30 May 2022, the European Union (“EU”) adopted the revised Regulation on guidelines for trans-European energy infrastructure (No. 2022/869) (the “TEN-E Regulation 2022”), which replaces the previous rules laid down in Regulation No. 347/2013 (the “TEN-E Regulation 2013”) that aimed to improve security of supply, market integration, competition and sustainability in the energy sector. The TEN-E Regulation 2022 seeks to better support the modernisation of Europe’s cross-border energy infrastructures and the EU Green Deal objectives.

The three most important things you need to know about the TEN-E Regulation 2022:

  • Projects may qualify as Projects of Common Interest (“PCI”) and be selected on an EU list if (i) they fall within the identified priority corridors and (ii) help achieve EU’s overall energy and climate policy objectives in terms of security of supply and decarbonisation. The TEN-E Regulation 2022 updates its priority corridors to address the EU Green Deal objectives, while extending their scope to include projects connecting the EU with third countries, namely Projects of Mutual Interest (“PMI”).
  • PCIs and PMIs on the EU list must be given priority status to ensure rapid administrative and judicial treatment.
  • PCIs and PMIs will be eligible for EU financial assistance. Member States will also be able to grant financial support subject to State aid rules.


Continue Reading The European Union Adopted New Rules for the Trans-European Networks for Energy

As the world struggles to adjust to the harsh new reality of Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the most recent instalment of the Sixth IPCC Report slipped out almost unnoticed.  And that is worrying, since the assessment in this section of the Report is even starker than previous assessments – noting in particular that in order to avoid global temperatures increasing by greater than 1.5 degrees C above preindustrial levels, the world needs to halve its emissions this decade: a reduction that the world does not currently appear to be remotely on course to do.

However, whilst the IPCC Report and the Russian invasion of Ukraine are not linked, Russian aggression in Ukraine may serve as a catalyst to speed up the European energy transition and accelerate its retreat from dependency on Russian gas and exposure to volatile international oil markets, which could in turn deliver a more rapid reduction in European emissions.  In the process, perhaps setting the world on a path to achieving an outcome that currently seems unattainable.

Continue Reading The IPCC and The Ukraine Crisis

On February 2, 2022, the European Commission adopted a Complementary Climate Delegated Act (the “CCDA”) listing specific gas and nuclear activities as “environmentally sustainable” for purposes of the EU Taxonomy Regulation, subject to strict criteria. Only certain activities that comply with strict emissions limits and other criteria detailed below may be so designated. Even so, the Commission’s decision to list nuclear and gas activities as “environmentally sustainable” is controversial and may still be blocked by EU Member States and the European Parliament through an upcoming scrutiny period, and may also be legally challenged before the EU Courts. Nevertheless there is a significant chance that the Commission’s criteria to consider the listed gas and nuclear activities as “environmentally sustainable” will enter into force by the beginning of 2023. This would allow such listed gas and nuclear activities to have access to green investors and ear-marked public funds under the EU’s Next Generation EU investment program.

Continue Reading Gas and Nuclear Activities in the EU Taxonomy Regulation: Under What Conditions Does the Commission Deem Them Environmentally Sustainable?