10 Jul 2023

Celebrating 30 years of the EU Single Market, pas sans soucis

N’importe quoi. Probably the expression that best captures recent developments in the Single Market space. And no coincidence this is a French idiom. Since our last newsletter, where we had informed you about the ongoing European Commission infringement procedure against the French Triman Decree, France has adopted a new law introducing a ban on single-use packaging made wholly or partly of plastic for the sale of fresh fruit and vegetables. The prohibition entered into force on 1st July, despite a formal request from the European Commission to put the measure on hold given the ongoing revision of the PPWR, which foresees a wider ban in Annex V of the legislative proposal.

Pas tout seuls. Unfortunately, France is not an isolated case. Luxembourg has restricted, from 1st July too, the use of single-use plastic packaging for fresh fruit and vegetables without prior notification to the TRIS system and Spain is currently defining the list of fresh fruit and vegetables which would be exempted from the scope of its national ban, which entered into force in January this year as part of a full-fledged packaging Royal Decree also introducing unilateral packaging labelling requirements. If the Spanish initiatives already cover measures foreseen in Articles 11 and 22 of the PPWR proposal, Germany is also looking to introduce national requirements that will likely anticipate the reuse targets set out in Article 26 of the PPWR. While a final text has not yet seen the light, the German Federal Environment Ministry published this month key points for a draft law that would amend Germany’s existing packaging act. Amongst others, the new German rules should increase the use of reusable packaging in the beverage and HORECA sectors, for instance by obliging supermarkets to offer at least one reusable alternative for several types of beverages or allowing consumers to return their reusable bottles everywhere.

On a more positive note for the EU Single Market, the French State Council issued this month its final ruling on the so-called Green Dot Decree, deciding to annul the text, which penalised the use of the symbol in France on the basis that it would mislead consumers. According to the State Council, France had not fully respected its obligation to notify the text to the European Commission, preventing it from fully assessing the potential market implications of the Decree.

As Member States move forward with the adoption of unilateral packaging requirements irrespective of the ongoing co-decision process on the PPWR, EUROPEN continues to advocate for the respect of the Single Market principles. A strong and resilient EU Single Market is paramount to enable the creation of greater economies of scale and draw the investment needed to realise a circular and climate-neutral economy in Europe. Our Secretary General, Francesca Stevens, brought this to the attention of Members of the European Parliament at the IMCO debate on PPWR in May (click here for the video), once again reaffirming the support of the entire packaging value chain for a harmonised packaging legislative framework, anchored in a Regulation with an internal market legal basis.

What did you miss?

  • 15 February 2023: the European Commission launched an infringement procedure against the French Triman Decree
  • 17 April 2023: 120 packaging industry associations issued a joint letter urging co-legislators to preserve in its entirety the internal market legal basis of the PPWR
  • 20 June 2023: France adopted Decree 2023-478 on the obligation to present unprocessed fresh fruit and vegetables for sale without packaging made wholly or partly of plastic material
  • 23 June 2023: the European Commission issued a detailed opinion on the draft Hungarian Decree (introducing unilateral requirements on deposit and return systems pre-empting the PPWR), putting the adoption of the Decree on hold until 25 September 2023

What’s next?