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Preparing access to EU´s single market for green products

The Situation

To address the growing numbers of certifications and environmental labels the European Commission (EC) launched in 2012 the Single Market for Green Products Initiative in response to a development where dissimilar national and private green labels, had created a situation of mistrust, confusion and intransparency for the consumers and rising costs for the manufacturers. As a first step in providing reliable, meaningful and verified information about the environmental footprint of products to its consumers, the European Union has commenced  testing whether such information can be generated at reasonable cost and effort.

In 2012, the EU invited industries sectors to pilot the approach. Industry groups and associations could apply if they represented 50% of the market volume in the EU. More than 120 pilots were proposed, signalling the very positive attitude of many industries and industry associations. Due to budget restrictions, the EU selected 27 of these to test the approach. These pilots started in 2013 and 2014 and are now in a final stage.

Although the EU has not decided what the policy measures will be, it is widely expected that this development will have a large impact on companies that export to Europe. A key challenge will be to develop the understanding needed to provide detailed environmental data on the supply chain, use and disposal of a product.  Being able to supply such information may become an important element in the competition in Europe.

In 2017/18 the experiences will be evaluated and the EU will develop policies that could range from voluntary or obligatory labelling to even taxation (as many countries did with energy using products and cars).

The potential for SwitchMed partners

For businesses in the Southern Mediterranean region, the EU single market is not only one of the most important trading partners but also a market with a huge export potential. Knowing which rules and regulations applies on the EU single market is not only essential in gaining access, but also critical in order to compete on equal terms with other competitors. SwitchMed recognizes the potential of the Single Market for Green Products Initiative, not only for EU manufacturers, but also for non EU producers which aim to produce at a higher environmental performance, offering more competitive products and to meet standards of sustainable production for the EU single market.

Beginning in 2017, relevant partners such as industrial associations and export orientated businesses will be invited to local workshops in the participating countries of Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia. The workshops will be organized by UNIDO together with the participation of representatives from the Environmental Footprint team, with the objective to present the outcomes of the 27 pilots and the subsequent EU consultations in how the regulatory framework for the Green Products Initiative will articulate. To identify the most viable and relevant sector framework, UNIDO will pre-select relevant sectors applicable to the national manufacturing industries in the participating countries. In addition, national partners in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and Tunisia will assist in raising awareness among national stakeholders about the framework for a Single Market for Green Products initiative, contributing to the adaption of greener standards for the national manufacturing businesses in order to compete on equivalent terms in the EU market.

Click on the countries below to receive detailed information about the UNIDO workshops