Review of EU rules on fluorinated greenhouse gases

In “A European Green Deal”

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The European Commission's work programme for 2022, adopted on 19 October 2021, announced that it would put forward, under the European Green Deal, a review of EU rules on fluorinated greenhouse gases (F-gases). The legislative proposal, and impact assessment, are expected on 5 April 2022.

The roadmap was published on 29 June 2020. A public consultation was held from 15 September 2020 to 29 December 2020.

On 5 April 2022 the Commission presented to the Parliament and Council the proposal on fluorinated greenhouse gases, amending Directive (EU) 2019/1937 and repealing Regulation (EU) No 517/2014. The proposal aims to ensure better enforcement through clarification and strengthening of existing rules.

The proposal addresses all fluorinated gases, either alone or in mixture, listed in Annexes I to III of the proposal, and products/equipment that contain, or need, fluorinated gases to operate. The proposal would introduce changes to the current free allocation quota system by means of introducing a quota price and it would expand the current Regulation as to include trade requirements. Furthermore, the proposal would address F-gases production rights allocation by setting a diminishing trend, introduce an energy efficiency dimension in certification and training programmes, and further develop the applicable labelling and reporting requirements, and penalties.

In the European Parliament the proposal has been referred to the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety which appointed Bas Eickhout (Greens/EFA - Netherlands) as a rapporteur. The Committee adopted its report on 1 March 2023 with 64 votes in favour, to eight against, with seven abstentions. On 30 March 2023, MEPs adopted their position with 426 votes in favour, 109 against and 52 abstentions. Among other changes to the Commission's proposal, the adopted position strengthens the requirements to place on the market products containing F-gases. It would prohibit the use of F-gases in sectors where alternatives exist that are both technologically and economically feasible, including in the heat pump sector. Moreover, the position introduces stricter dates from which it will no longer be possible to place on the market certain F‑gases, or products and equipment containing such gases, including domestic refrigerators and freezers containing F-gases, no matter their global warming potential. From 2039, the phase-out of HFCs placed on the market would follow a steeper trajectory, as well, reaching zero by 2050. The position requires the Commission to monitor continuously the technological and market developments in relation to the use of F-gases and their natural alternatives in the EU. In addition, it proposes to introduce minimum administrative fines for non-compliance. 

The Council adopted its position on 5 April 2023. The position, amongst other changes, amends the proposal's phase down schedule, lowers the HFCs quota allocation prices from €3 to €2, agrees to postpone several bans in comparison to the Commission's proposal, mainly for heat pump, and takes a less prescriptive approach on the provisions on penalties.

The European Economic and Social Committee adopted its position on 15 June 2022. It welcomes the proposal yet points to the possibility for higher ambition, highlighting specifically the opportunity of promoting low-GWP natural refrigerants. The EESC is in favour of combining the REPowerEU ambition with the F-gases phase-out and of introducing a mechanism to increase income from quota sales.

The European Committee of the Regions has decided not to draw up an opinion on the proposal.

On 5 October 2023 the Council and the European Parliament reached a provisional agreement on the file, which sets 2050 as the year when the consumption of HFCs would be completely phased out, and 2036 as the year by when the production of HFCs (in relation to production rights allocated by the Commission) would be phased down to a minimum (15%). According to the text, starting in 2027 there would be a full ban on small (<12kW) monobloc heat pumps and air conditioning containing F-gases with a GWP of at least 150, with a complete phase-out in 2032. The agreed text also contains provisions related to the deployment target of heat pumps, as required under REPowerEU, in such a manner that would allow for the release of a limited number of additional quotas for heat pumps. The HFC quota allocation price would be set at €3, adjustable for inflation. From 1 January 2028 there would be a mandatory extended producer responsibility scheme for products and equipment, containing f-gases that fall under the categories of electrical and electronic equipment, which is subject to Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment.

The provisionally agreed text was endorsed by the Committee of the Permanent Representatives of the Governments of the Member States to the EU on 18 October 2022 and by the ENVI committee on 24 October 2023. On 16 January 2024 the file was voted in plenary with 457 votes in favour, 92 against and 32 abstentions. The final act was signed on 7 February 2024 and published in the Official Journal on 20 February 2024.

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Author: Henrique Simões, Members' Research Service, legislative-train@europarl.europa.eu

As of 20/04/2024.