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EU Policy. ROUNDUP: Key energy and environment votes in parliament

AP / Matthias Schrader
AP / Matthias Schrader Copyright Matthias Schrader/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved
Copyright Matthias Schrader/Copyright 2019 The AP. All rights reserved
By Marta Pacheco
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MEPs waved through a raft of energy and environment files in Strasbourg this week during the last European Parliament plenary session before elections in June.


The legislation adopted this week by the Parliament, already provisionally agreed in back-room talks with member state officials, now awaits the final rubber stamp from the EU Council before entering into force.

Right to repair

Lawmakers approved on Tuesday (April 23) strengthening the right to repair of household products such as washing machines, vacuum cleaners, and smartphones. The law, backed by 584 votes against 3, seeks to reduce waste and bolster the repair sector.

German lawmaker René Repasi (S&D): “The new legislation extends legal guarantees by 12 months when opting for repair, gives better access to spare parts and ensures easier, cheaper and faster repair.”

Monique Goyens, director general at the European Consumer Organisation (BEUC): “The Parliament agreement is great news for consumers: the new rules will put pressure on producers to make high-quality and repairable products. This will mark the closure of the chapter on impossible-to-fix products that break too quickly.”


On the same day, lawmakers voted by 455 to 99 in favour of a new Ecodesign Regulation, replacing a directive of the same name, extends ‘sustainable by design’ rules to tackle fast fashion and introduce a digital product passport to provide transparent information to traders and consumers. Overall, materials like steel, furniture, tyres, chemicals and textiles will need to comply with specific sustainability requirements for most products sold in the EU. Producers and retailers will also have to report the destruction of any unsold goods, starting with clothing and footwear two years after the law takes effect.

Italian lawmaker Alessandra Moretti (S&D): “Sustainable products will become the norm, allowing consumers to save energy, repair and make smart environmental choices when they are shopping.”

Neil D’Souza, EU-based expert in materials sourcing and sustainable design, CEO of Makersite: “If there ever was one, this will be the regulation that will change the world, just like nutrition labels did in 1970. Looking back at history of similar regulations, I expect it will take 10 years or less to reach mass adoption in Europe.”

Air Quality

An updated Ambient Air Quality Directive (AAQD) was green lighted with 381 votes in favour and 225 against on Wednesday (24 April). The new law sets stricter limits for air pollutants and improves monitoring to pave the way for a full alignment with the World Health Organisation’s stringent guidelines by 2030.

Spanish lawmaker Javi López (S&D): “Thanks to Parliament, the updated rules improve air quality monitoring and protect vulnerable groups more effectively. Today [April 24] is a significant victory in our continuous commitment to secure a safer, cleaner environment for all Europeans.”

Margherita Tolotto, policy manager air and noise, at the NGO umbrella group European Environmental Bureau (EEB): “Still, some MEPs have chosen to vote against human health and environmental protection. When voting for the new Parliament later in June it is important for citizens to know who are the ones standing up for their right to health and the environment and those who are not.”

Packaging waste

Another rubber-stamp vote awaiting Council approval, the Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation (PPWR) was backed by MEPs on Wednesday with 476 votes in favour and 129 against. The new rules are designed to make packaging more sustainable and reduce packaging waste in the EU. The PPWR includes reduction targets — 5% by 2030, 10% by 2035 and 15% by 2040. Provisions to ban the use of so-called “forever chemicals also feature in the law.

Belgian lawmaker Frédérique Ries (Renew Europe): “For the first time in an environmental law, the EU is setting targets to reduce packaging, regardless of the material used.”

Francesca Stevens, secretary general of packaging industry group Europen: "We're starting to see too many national diverged measures. And this is not just bad for business, but really for circular economy."

Due diligence

On Wednesday MEPs in Strasbourg voted 374 to 235 in favour of the Corporate Sustainability Due Diligence Directive (CSDDD), which requires big companies to check supply chains for pollution, environmental damage or poor labour practices. The new rules will apply to EU and non-EU companies and parent companies with turnover of more than €450 million.

Dutch lawmaker Lara Wolters (S&D): “The CSDDD vote is a milestone for responsible business conduct and a considerable step towards ending the exploitation of people and the planet by cowboy companies.”

Jennifer Kwao, trade and corporate accountability campaigns officer at Climate Action Network (CAN) Europe: “Starting with member states, the EU must keep a keen eye on them for swift and proper transposition of the law [CSDDD]. And it should be ready to take them to task for failing to meet their legal obligation.”

Energy Charter Treaty

Lawmakers overwhelmingly supported withdrawal from the Energy Charter Treaty with 594 votes in favour and only 7 against. This brings the EU one step closer to rejecting the 1994 agreement intended to protect investments in unstable post-Soviet Union states, but whose investor-state dispute settlement provisions have primarily been used by energy firms to sue western governments over the alleged impact of environmental and climate legislation on their future bottom line.

German lawmaker Anna Cavazzini (Greens): “Finally the fossil dinosaur treaty is no longer standing in the way of consistent climate protection, as we no longer have to fear corporate lawsuits demanding billions of euros in compensation brought before private arbitration tribunals.”


Paul de Clerck, economic justice expert at the NGO Friends of the Earth Europe: “Politicians now have the duty to further unlock Europe from fossil fuels, scrap the investor-state dispute settlement (ISDS) parallel justice system that lets industry sue states over public interest policies in many other trade and investment deals, and accelerate the clean energy transition.”

Net-zero industry act

MEPs backed the EU’s answer to the Biden administration’s Inflation Reduction Act on Thursday (25 April) by 361 votes to 121, paving the way for an acceleration of the green industrialisation of the bloc. The new legal framework is intended to boost the domestic production of technologies needed for decarbonisation, such as electric vehicle batteries, heat pumps, solar panels, electrolysers and wind turbines.

German lawmaker Christian Ehler (EPP): “This vote is good news for European industry and sets the tone for the next term. To achieve all our economic, climate and energy ambitions, we need industry in Europe.”

Dries Acke, deputy CEO of the Brussels-based trade association SolarPower Europe: “The NZIA is only one part of the story, while landing the NZIA sends a strong signal, it doesn’t negate the need for emergency support and for a structural EU fund for scaling solar manufacturing soon. Some manufacturers have weeks left of survival, this emergency requires urgent action from EU and national authorities.”

Fiscal rules

Not strictly speaking an environment or energy policy file, but the adoption on Tuesday of updated EU fiscal rules sparked outrage and despair among environmentalists, who feared a return to austerity and rued the lack of any provisions to exempt public investment in green infrastructure from a strict annual budget deficit limit of 3%.


Belgian MEP Philippe Lamberts, president of the Greens/EFA Group: “Unfortunately, at the heart of this reform lies an ideological obsession that prioritises the dogma of debt reduction over investment and social spending.”

German Lawmaker Markus Ferber (EPP), parliamentary rapporteur: “This reform constitutes a fresh start and a return to fiscal responsibility. The new framework will be simpler, more predictable and more pragmatic.”

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