Sustainable batteries: member states ready to start negotiations with Parliament

The Council today adopted a general approach on a proposal for a regulation to strengthen EU legislation on batteries and waste batteries. The new rules will promote the development of sustainable and safe battery production chains throughout their life cycle and create a level playing field on the internal market.

Batteries are a key element of the clean energy transition. The new rules will promote the competitiveness of European industry and production chains and make more batteries available for our shift towards zero-emission modes of transport. The new rules will ensure end of life batteries will be properly collected and will not end up discarded in the environment. This will prevent toxic substances contained in them from being released in the environment and drastically limit the wasting of precious materials that could be recovered in the context of a circular economy.

Barbara Pompili – Minister for Ecological Transition

The Council negotiating position keeps and strengthens the fundamentals of the Commission’s original proposal, including the “battery passport”, tight restrictions for hazardous substances, a carbon footprint for batteries, extended producer responsibility and the obligation for new batteries to contain recycled materials and due diligence requirements for supply chains.

The general approach extends the scope of the regulation to ready-made battery modules and to all electric vehicle batteries.

It keeps the objectives for producers to collect portable waste batteries, and introduces a dedicated collection objective for portable batteries for light means of transport (e.g. electric bikes, e-mopeds, e-scooters).

The general approach maintains an ambitious and balanced timeframe by putting the emphasis on the provisions related to batteries for electric vehicles, in particular regarding the carbon footprint and performance requirements. The development of this market is one of the conditions for the decarbonisation of the economy and society.

The general approach also guarantees a right to initiative for member states to propose restrictions on the presence of hazardous substances in batteries at every step of their life cycle.

It also aims to make the text more coherent and clearer and facilitate its application by member states and economic actors on the market, who need clarity and certainty to commit the investments needed for the green transition.

Background and next steps

The proposal for a regulation on batteries, presented by the European Commission on 10 December 2020, aims to set up a circular economy sector by targeting all stages of the life cycle of batteries, from design to waste treatment. This initiative is of major importance, particularly in view of the massive development of electric mobility, from an environmental, economic and social point of view. It is also very important in terms of technological sovereignty for the European Union.

The new regulation will replace the current batteries directive of 2006 and complete the existing legislation, particularly in terms of waste management.

The Commission’s proposal was the subject of an initial exchange of views during the Environment Council of March 2021, an initial progress report in the Environment Council in June 2021 and a second progress report in the Environment Council in December 2021. The European Parliament adopted its negotiating position in the plenary on 10 March 2022. The Council and Parliament will now start trilogue negotiations with a view to progressing towards an agreement on the final text in first reading.