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Green paper and related documents

Developments Leading to the Green Paper in 2001

Prior to the adoption of the Green Paper by the Commission in 2001 studies were commissioned and stakeholders consulted.

Studies

A study on IPP was carried out for the Commission by Ernst & Young and the University of Sussex. This examined the major issues related to IPP, developed a framework for future developments and provided an overview of recent initiatives in selected Member States. In addition it examined the role of all the major actors who are currently involved in IPP, such as industry, retailers and consumers.

Executive summary (pdf ~130K)

In 1998 the same consultants were contracted once again to update their study in the light of recent developments in the Member States and international fora.

Study (pdf ~200K)

Stakeholder Consultation

On 8 December 1998, the Commission organised a Workshop on Integrated Product Policy in Brussels. The event attracted more than 180 participants from public authorities, industries, consumers and environmental organisations. The aim of the workshop was to initiate a brainstorming discussion on the definitions, objectives and priorities for the development of an Integrated Product Policy in the Community.

The workshop was seen as a positive step by all stakeholders, allowing their integration at an early stage in the policy making process. Preliminary conclusions from the workshop were that:

  • the Commission needs to communicate further and explain the added value of IPP;
  • IPP should be a framework under the umbrella of sustainable development with long term objectives based on existing environmental priorities (e.g. climate change, fifth action programme, etc);
  • the root of IPP is the Life Cycle Approach or Life Cycle Thinking (as opposed to Life Cycle Assessment, which is only one of the tools that may be used to implement IPP)
  • the role of stakeholders is fundamental: the approach should be clearly communicated, stakeholders should participate from the early stages and the responsibilities of stakeholders should be clear;
  • the instruments used to implement IPP should be flexible and chosen on a case by case basis;
  • the greening of products standards is an important issue;
  • labelling approaches should be broadened to include Type I, II and III labels in a complementary system;
  • IPP should be linked to sustainable consumption, in particular addressing consumption patterns;
  • services needs to be considered in IPP.

Detailed workshop report (pdf ~720K)

The Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy

On 7th February 2001, the European Commission adopted a Green Paper on IPP with the objective of launching a debate on the role and possible measures that could be taken on a European Union level. The Green Paper and press release are available by clicking the language icons below.

Press release

Green Paper on Integrated Product Policy COM(2001)68

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(pdf ~150K; except el 1.3M)

The Green Paper builds on extensive consultations and studies and presents ideas for strengthening product-focused environmental policies and assisting the growth of a market for greener products. In so doing it examines the potential for the various stakeholders, i.e. those who are impacted by or have an interest in the issues, and suggests possible methods of implementation. An integrated policy for products will probably need to be based on a mixture of the instruments outlined below.

1) Getting the Prices Right

Getting the prices right is probably the single most effective measure available to stimulate markets for greener products. The consumer is most likely to act if they can feel the advantage in their pocket.

Ideas suggested for discussion include:

  • differentiated taxation such as reduced VAT rates on eco-labelled products;
  • an extension of the producer responsibility concept to new areas; and
  • the use of state aid policy within the New Guidelines on State Aid for Environmental Protection.

2) Stimulating Demand for Greener Products.

If consumers demand green products markets are likely to provide them. However to choose between different products consumers need information which is easily accessible, understandable, relevant and credible.

The Green Paper suggests an examination of the existing types of environmental labelling and consideration of whether a strategy on wider labelling should be drawn up by the Commission.

There is also considerable potential for public procurement, which represents around 12 % of Community GDP to stimulate green demand. The Green Paper recognises the need to examine Community public procurement law and its possibilities for giving preference to environmentally friendly products. Another possible tool suggested is some form of exchange of experience between procurement authorities.

3) Strengthening Green Production

Once a product is put on the market, it is difficult to reduce its impacts. By focusing on their environmentally friendly design environmental impacts could be prevented. Possible ways to improve eco-design include:

  • improving the generation and flow of life-cycle information;
  • encouraging eco-design guidelines;
  • integrating environmental considerations into the standardisation process; and
  • reviewing the approach of so-called "New Approach" legislation, such as the Packaging Directive and the planned Directive on Electrical and Electronic Equipment.

A new method for considering the life-cycle aspects suggested by the Green Paper is "Product Panels". These are groups of relevant stakeholders who seek to devise solutions to particular problems.

Consultations on the Green Paper

Following the adoption of the Green Paper the Commission organised a series of events to stimulate discussion of the document and invited written comments from all interested parties. In parallel the other European Institutions considered the paper, producing opinions on it.

Stakeholder Events

The IPP Conference: Launching the Stakeholder Debate

The first event was a conference to launch the consultations. Organised in conjunction with the Swedish presidency of the Council of Ministers it took place over one and a half days on March 8th and 9th 2001. Over 230 individuals attended, representing a wide variety of stakeholders: industry, consumers; retailers; researchers; environmental organisations; governments and consultants. A summary of the meeting is available, including speeches by Commissioner Wallström, the Swedish Environment Minister, Mr Kjell Larsson and Mrs Garcia-Orcoyen MEP and a list of attendees (pdf ~30K).

Further Stakeholder Events

Following on from the conference, the Commission organised seven small expert workshops on IPP related subjects. They have informed the Commission on more technical aspects related to the subjects covered by IPP.

Summaries of the workshops are available here: (pdf ~70K)

Stakeholder Comments

In the Green Paper all interested parties were invited to submit comments by 30th June 2001. Roughly 130 sets of comments were received from a variety of stakeholders. A table listing all those who responded and the type of organisation and scale they represent can be found here. This table also provides a link to their comments where they have agreed to make them public (NB in the original language). The link will then either go straight to their website or will provide an e-mail address to which you can send a request for information.

Opinions of the European Institutions

Council conclusions were reached at the Environment Council on June 7th 2001. These are available in Press Release 9116/01.

The Reslution adopted by the European Parliament can be found here.

The Committee of the Regions and the Economic and Social Committee have also produced opinions on the Green Paper. The Committee of the Regions' opinion can be downloaded from their website - Committee of the Regions.