The European Commission's ozone layer protection team has won the Ozone Protection Award of the United Nations Environment Programme’s Regional Ozone Network for Europe and Central Asia (ECA Network) for its strong commitment to fighting illegal trade in ozone-depleting substances (ODS).
The team forms part of unit C2 of the Commission’s Directorate-General for Climate Action.
This year’s other winners were Albania, Belarus, Bosnia and Herzegovina, China, Cyprus, Georgia, Germany, India, Israel, Kyrgyzstan, Montenegro, Russia, Serbia, Spain, Tajikistan, Turkey, Ukraine and Uzbekistan.
The Ozone Protection Award aims to provide incentives and recognition to customs and enforcement officers who succeed in preventing illegal trade in ODS and related equipment. Illegal trade remains a serious challenge. Fighting it is crucial if the global phase-out of ODS agreed under the Montreal Protocol is to achieve the hoped-for recovery of the ozone layer.
The ODS licencing system is a key tool for preventing illegal trade. The Commission recently put in place a new, state-of-the-art licencing system which is more user friendly and will reduce the administrative burden for all involved. Many applications will now be validated automatically and not manually, as in the past, and companies can look forward to receiving their requested licences much more quickly.
By 2010 the EU reduced its consumption of the main uses of ODS to zero. However, certain uses of these substances are still allowed and imports and exports of those substances require a licence. The Commission is responsible for the issuing of licences in the European Union.