The Batteries Regulation: state of play

Q&A with Francesco Gattiglio, Director EU Affairs, EUROBAT

Q1: Now that Summer is over, European Parliament and Council are back to their work on the new Batteries Regulation. What do you see as priorities? What could be difficult points in the discussions?  

We as EUROBAT have distinguished five key areas and asks, which the EU policymakers will hopefully tackle in the next round of negotiations:      

1 – Develop appropriate definitions and assign responsibilities clearly

  • Definitions should unambiguously differentiate battery types and clarify the difference ‎between battery cell, battery module and battery as a finished product
  • Responsibilities should clearly and unambiguously be assigned to the right actors, above all in the case of the producer definition

2 – To avoid overlaps with horizontal measures

The Commission included several completely new concepts in the proposal, which could be used as a blueprint for other sectors. These could however be possibly damaging the battery sector vis-à-vis competing for products in the storage or mobility sector. If e.g. REACH, the Standardisation Regulation, or any other horizontal legislation has shortcomings, then the solution is to re-discuss those, not to create derogations in every single product-specific regulation such as the Batteries Regulation.

3 – Decisions should be based on solid methodologies and robust impact assessments

A general problem with the proposal is the establishment of numerical targets and measures unaccompanied by the definition of methodologies or by serious impact assessments. This is the case, for instance, with the targets for recycling efficiencies, where targets are established but the methodology to calculate them is left to a delegated act to be developed by the Commission, which makes it quite difficult to assess the feasibility of the targets.

4 – Respect the diversity of battery technologies and applications

Another general problem with the proposal is the lack of recognition of the diversity of the battery market. Several measures are tailored with lithium-ion batteries for e-mobility applications in mind. However, the battery market is extremely diverse – there are different technologies (lithium, lead, sodium and nickel-based) with hundreds of very different applications, from button to container size. The same requirements cannot be applied to all batteries, especially in the case of performance and design.

5 – Adopt reasonable timelines and transition periods

  • A general transition period of 24 months for the entire Regulation should be foreseen
  • 24 to 36 months should be granted between the adoption of secondary legislation and their entry into force
  • Include a grandfather clause to avoid waste of resources

Q2: Why does EUROBAT welcome the Batteries Regulation proposal as a necessary initiative and what opportunity is there for all battery chemistries?

EUROBAT welcomed the proposal as a necessary initiative: the Batteries Directive dates from 2006 and does not reflect the evolution of the battery market and its growing importance.

The proposal has a good general approach. It considers all stages of a battery’s lifetime, from production to use phase and end-of-life management, taking into account the interactions between chemicals management, environmental protection and industrial competitiveness.

Turning the Batteries Directive into a Regulation is also welcomed by the battery industry, as a step towards a level-playing field at EU level, reducing differences among national markets. However, definitions and scoping should be carefully assessed in relation to the obligations mandated, having in mind the specificities of each application and technology.

Looking at the forecasted boost in battery applications and production for the next decade, it is clear that we will require all chemistries in order to meet increased demand.

Q3: A lot is at stake for the evolution of the battery market – what opportunities can a proportionate legislative and policy framework unlock for it, as well as for the EU?

The global battery market is estimated to be worth more than €130 billion by 2030, and Europe will be the second-largest market behind China with a forecasted turnover of €35 billion.

For Europe, it will be of strategic importance to produce green, sustainable batteries in the EU, and this Regulation will create the legislative framework to make it possible. Of course, the Regulation needs to be properly designed and based on solid assessments, and to avoid counterproductive measures that would ultimately damage the EU battery industry.

Legislation has to provide a level playing field, allowing all battery chemistries to play their role – if not the EU will not be self-sufficient and meet future demand.

Read more on the impact of the new Batteries Regulation on the EU

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