France to speed up adoption of battery regulation
France, currently at the helm of the EU Council presidency, hopes to make as much progress as possible on the battery regulation in the coming months. EURACTIV France reports.
The batteries regulation could be adopted in 2022, according to its negotiators and in particular France, which has made it one of the priorities of its EU presidency.
For now, things appear to be going in the right direction, especially for the European Parliament, which wants the regulation to enter into force on 1 January 2027, six months earlier than first envisaged, as French MEP and chair of the European Parliament’s ENVI committee, Pascal Canfin, recently told EURACTIV.
MEPs of the environment committee (ENVI), adopted on 9 February a text on the battery regulation, which is mostly aligned with the European Commission’s initial proposal but calls for more demands to be made on certain objectives.
“For the first time in European legislation, the battery regulation establishes a holistic framework of rules governing the entire life cycle of a product, from design to the end of its life,” said Simona Bonafè, the rapporteur for the Parliament’s proposal.
In their report, MEPs call for a 70% increase of waste collection for portable batteries by 2025 instead of the 65% proposed by the Commission, as well as an 80% increase by 2030 compared to the EU executive’s 70%.
As for the minimum collection rates for batteries for light transport, MEPs want to aim for 75% by 2025 and 85% by 2030.
ENVI’s report is expected to be adopted in the Parliament’s plenary session in March. Negotiations will then begin between representatives of the EU governments.
Canfin: Battery Regulation to enter into force ‘six months’ early
In an interview with EURACTIV France , Pascal Canfin spoke about the EU Parliament’s proposals to improve the battery regulation, and the actions to be taken to accelerate the transition towards full electric mobility in the EU.
A French priority
The objective first presented in the proposal was to establish standards “to ensure that only the most environmentally friendly, efficient and safe batteries are placed on the EU market”, as Maroš Šefčovič, European Commission vice-president and battery aficionado, said at the time.
Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton also said that “with the right investments and incentives – including today’s proposal for a new regulatory framework – we will be able to develop the complete battery value chain in the EU, from raw materials and chemicals to recycling and electromobility”.
France intends to speed up the process.
French Ecological Transition Minister Barbara Pompili presented her four priorities for the French EU presidency before the ENVI committee on 26 January. Promoting the circular economy was one of them, for which the battery regulation is a good example.
As a “symbol of our future ecological, economic and technological power”, the Battery Regulation should provide Europe with standards for battery production, from design to the end of life, but also strengthen the requirements for collection and recycling.
“It is time to reach a conclusion as soon as possible, and if possible at the Environment Council in March,” said Pompili. “We will try to keep the timetable as ambitious as possible for this regulation.”
Industrialists also want the process to quickly move forward.
“The battery value chain must immediately integrate the need to produce locally,” Benoît Lemaignan, co-founder of Verkor, a French battery manufacturer, has said.
“The sooner we start, the sooner we can assess the carbon footprint of batteries and the better for the industry. The battery regulation will help us take this into account and benefit our customers,” he added.
France aims for ‘a true ecological sovereignty for Europe’ at informal EU talks
Paris, which currently holds the six-month EU Council presidency, has highlighted the objective of achieving greater EU sovereignty on energy and environment as EU ministers dealing with these issues embark on a three-day informal meeting in Amiens. EURACTIV France reports.
Speaking on 13 January on the theme of “a stronger industry for a more autonomous Europe”, Breton presented a “simple and pragmatic” roadmap for European industry.
He said he wanted “a ‘factory’ Europe that produces on its own soil, not only for its own needs but also to conquer world markets and to export”, and a Europe “that secures all its supply chains so as not to be at the mercy of what I call the geopolitics of value chains.”
In 2019 and 2020, a total of €120 billion of public and private money was invested in this field and 70 major battery projects, including more than 20 gigafactories, were announced or were being deployed, Breton said in his January speech.
In Sweden, the first gigafactory produced its first electric batteries for the automotive sector at the end of December.
“If all the planned gigafactories come to fruition, we will be the second-largest battery producer in the world in 2025, behind China, whereas five years ago, we were nowhere,” Parliament’s Canfin predicted in an interview with EURACTIV.
EU countries are already working towards this goal. Notably via Important Projects of Common European Interest (IPCEI), several EU countries, including France, are supporting manufacturers to develop a battery ecosystem, from raw materials to recycling.
With EU public funding of around €6 billion, 12 countries and 59 companies are involved in the process.
German electricity grid upgrade ‘will be expensive’, experts warn
Germany’s power grid is in dire need of upgrade to ensure stable supply in a country aiming to source 80% of its electricity from intermittent wind and solar by 2030.
However, for the industry to be independent and offer environmentally-friendly batteries, Europe needs to invest in minerals – raw materials needed for battery production.
Mines will not only have to be opened on EU soil, but legislation will also need to be adopted to ensure these mines operate in a way that respects the environment and human rights.
According to a report submitted to the French government on 10 January, Europe will not be able to produce more than 30% of its needs in strategic minerals – lithium, cobalt, nickel – for electric batteries in 2030. The challenge is therefore to better regulate imports too.
Before that, however, mines in Europe should also be supervised. On this, France has already taken the lead as Pompili’s ministry has announced in particular “the translation of the concept of ‘responsible mining’ into a certifiable standard or label, in connection with the battery regulation currently being examined at the European level”.
France may inspire the Commission to include a section on mines in its battery regulation proposal and bolster its drive for Europe’s strategic autonomy, which Economy Minister Bruno Le Maire said Paris has put “at the heart” of its EU Council presidency.
Given the EU’s objective of only having sales of zero-emission new vehicles by 2035, the bloc has every interest in taking advantage of France’s push for adopting a battery regulation as soon as possible.