On 25 October 2020, French Member of the European Parliament Hélène Laporte of the Identity and Democracy Group, posed a written parliamentary question to the European Commission:
“This autumn the Commission is due to propose a set of new rules to ensure that batteries produced in, or imported into, Europe are the greenest on the planet.
The new rules to be drawn up by the EU executive will impose mandatory criteria for the greenest, safest and most durable batteries on earth.
The market share of electric cars is expected to triple in Europe this year as a result of CO2 targets for cars. EU standards are expected to increase sales of electric cars to 10% in 2020 and 15% in 2021.
1. What guarantees has the Commission obtained in order to maintain high standards in terms of the environment and labour, in addition to the traceability of the raw material used in EU-designed batteries?
2. Has the Commission considered the perverse impact of a carbon border tax, seeking to ensure a level playing field, on foreign manufacturers?
3. Is the Commission aiming, in the long term, for self-sufficiency in battery production through the European Investment Bank (EIB), which is helping to build several ‘gigafactories’, the first of which is expected to be built in Sweden?”
On 22 January 2021, Environment, Oceans and Fisheries Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius responded on behalf of the European Commission stating: “The proposal for a new Regulation on Batteries and Waste Batteries includes obligations on economic operators placing batteries in the Union market to establish a supply chain due diligence policy. Such policy should aim at identifying and mitigating social and environmental risks associated with the extraction, processing and trading of key raw materials going into battery manufacturing.
The obligation will include a verification by third parties and disclosure of information to public authorities and the public. Furthermore, high environmental standards will be ensured by new requirements and targets on the content of recycled materials and collection, treatment and recycling of batteries at the end-of-life part.
The Commission is currently carrying out an impact assessment in view of the possible introduction of a Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM). Different options to design the CBAM are being explored and analysed, looking at all implications of each design.
Some of the issues that are being carefully analysed relate to World Trade Organisation compliance and how the future CBAM would interact with the Emissions Trading System. The impact assessment will be concluded in Q1 2021 and a proposal on CBAM is planned for Q2 2021.
The global demand for battery cells is expected to grow exponentially in the next years. Following the materialisation of expected private investments, the EU can have an important role in meeting this growing demand. Some investment projects benefit from loans from the European Investment Bank or other types of financial support.
In addition, the Commission is preparing support to Research and Innovation on batteries under the Horizon Europe programme. However, the distribution of supply and demand on a global scale in the long run will ultimately depend on decisions taken by the market players.”
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