ECOS is pleased to see that “The annual Union work programme for European standardisation for 2019” has finally been published after being delayed by the hierarchy of the European Commission. The work programme is a key tool of the EC highlighting the priorities for 2019.
We are pleased to note those priorities include actions in support of the energy union and climate, and the circular economy, the two key elements of ECOS’ own work programme for next year.
ECOS will also closely monitor the international trade negotiations that the European Commission undertakes as the programme for next year states that the EC will “promote European standardisation and contribute to chapters on Technical Barriers to Trade when negotiating, elaborating and implementing various international policy actions, such as Free-Trade Agreements…”, and the EC highlights that it will “launch a dialogue on standards with the United States in order to ease trade, reduce bureaucratic obstacles, and slash costs”.
The programme also helpfully highlights the importance of inclusiveness, and its intention to “demonstrate the favourable impact of inclusiveness on the quality of European standardisation”, and urges ECOS and the other societal stakeholders to “enhance and highlight the connection they have with their constituencies in different Member States.”
Equally importantly we are pleased to note the EC “will continue addressing inclusiveness and related challenges in its bilateral dialogue with the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) and the International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC).”
On circular economy ECOS welcomes a focus on plastics and the role standardisation can play in implementing the EU Plastics Strategy. ECOS fully supports the inclusion of a harmonised standard for beverage containers with tethered caps and lids in the AUWP as it ensures that caps and lids remain attached to beverage containers which helps avoid leakage into the environment of plastic caps and lids. We think it is important to urgently address biodegradability and compostability claims, and the development of quality standards for sorted plastics waste and recycled plastic. We agree with the necessity of introducing measurement methods for the release of microplastics from textiles as these are one of the main sources of unintentional release of microplastics into the environment. However, test methods for the measurement of other secondary microplastics would also be recommendable, such as the development of a harmonised test method to assess the abrasion of tyres in support of an improved tyre label, or the release of microplastics from biobeads or other plastic media used in wastewater treatment plants. Furthermore, standards for the measurement of microplastics pollution in environmental media, including ecotoxicological tests, should be developed to assess environmental health with regards to microplastics absorbing Persistent Organic Pollutants (POPs) and chemical toxins.
Bringing together climate change and the circular economy, ECOS welcomes the support of AUWP of a standardised EU life cycle assessment scheme for batteries, putting forward sustainability design and use requirements through ecodesign. The 2019 programme also envisages investigation on the role of European standards “enabling the safe and sustainable production, (re-)use and recycling of batteries”. ECOS believes that a stronger and immediate support should be given to the latter standards and that the circular economy thinking here should be centre-stage. We would welcome some clarity on this last point, including the relationship to the current draft standardisation request relating to WEEE, batteries and critical raw materials.
On climate and energy issues, the programme for 2019 addresses the transition to clean mobility and clean energy in relation to the Directive on the Deployment of alternative fuel infrastructures (Directive 2014/94/EU). ECOS welcomes the action to develop and revise standards relating to electro-mobility infrastructure (connection of recharging points to back-office IT systems, EV users identification and pricing information, among others). ECOS urges the EC to thoroughly push for standardisation needs to ensure a speedy and efficient transition to clean mobility and energy, including as a priority enabling cells for reuse and recycling. Unfortunately, an earlier draft stated an intention to extend the applicability of ISO 15031-5 (in particular its digital annex SAEJ1979DA) to battery electric vehicles, and vehicles operating on gaseous fuels and hydrogen (cells 31a-e) as it is important that appropriate communications protocols are in place to allow interoperable use of recharging networks. Regretfully, this final version of AUWP 2019 no longer mentions this ambition.
ECOS also welcomes the ecodesign standardisation work that will take place on pumps, local space heaters, solid fuel local space heaters, air-heating products, cooling products, high temperature process chillers and fan coil units air conditioning and batteries.