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Sustainable consumption: Helping consumers make eco-friendly choices

21-10-2020

Household consumption in the EU has major environmental impacts, which in a number of cases exceed planetary boundaries. Two thirds of consumers in the EU realise that their consumption habits have negative effects on the environment, and the solution that they mention most often is to change consumption habits and production patterns. However, a number of studies have shown a gap between consumers' good intentions and their actual behaviour. This happens because sustainability is not the only thing ...

Household consumption in the EU has major environmental impacts, which in a number of cases exceed planetary boundaries. Two thirds of consumers in the EU realise that their consumption habits have negative effects on the environment, and the solution that they mention most often is to change consumption habits and production patterns. However, a number of studies have shown a gap between consumers' good intentions and their actual behaviour. This happens because sustainability is not the only thing consumers consider when choosing what to buy; they are also influenced by price, availability and convenience, habits, values, social norms and peer pressure, emotional appeal, and the feeling of making a difference. Consumers also use their consumption patterns to communicate who they are to themselves and to others. Studies on the impacts of consumption show that these are influenced mainly by people's income. The European Union has a number of policies that are relevant for consumers' sustainable choices. These include environmental product requirements, information and labelling requirements, rules on product guarantees, climate legislation that attempts to build the price of CO2 emissions into production expenses, and waste legislation that makes it easier to recycle. The European Commission now plans to add a legislative initiative to empower consumers for the green transition. The European Parliament has long been a supporter of making consumption in the EU more sustainable, and has recently called for measures to ensure that consumers are provided with transparent, comparable and harmonised product information, especially when it comes to the durability and reparability of products and their environmental footprint.

Nutrition labelling schemes used in Member States

27-07-2020

The controversial issue of ‘front-of-pack nutrition labelling’ (FOP labelling) has been high on the agenda of those following European food labelling issues for many years. With half of adults in the European Union being overweight and with many health problems related to unhealthy diets, making the healthy choice the easy choice for consumers has been advocated as one of the means that could help to solve problems. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling is simplified nutrition information provided on ...

The controversial issue of ‘front-of-pack nutrition labelling’ (FOP labelling) has been high on the agenda of those following European food labelling issues for many years. With half of adults in the European Union being overweight and with many health problems related to unhealthy diets, making the healthy choice the easy choice for consumers has been advocated as one of the means that could help to solve problems. Front-of-pack nutrition labelling is simplified nutrition information provided on the front of food packaging, aiming to help consumers with their food choices. Under the current EU rules, the indication of nutrition information on the front of packaging is not mandatory but could be provided on a voluntary basis. Some Member States have already introduced voluntary schemes to help consumers to identify healthier products. The Commission announces in its new ‘Farm to Fork’ strategy, launched in May 2020, that it will propose a mandatory harmonised front-of‑pack nutrition labelling system by the end of 2022. Consumer and health associations broadly consider that FOP nutrition labelling plays a key role in helping consumers make more informed, healthier food choices. There is, however, also criticism of such schemes, arguing that they are over-simplified and can mislead consumers. In its resolution on the European Green Deal, adopted in January 2020, the European Parliament welcomes the plan for a sustainable food system strategy, as well as the Commission’s intention to explore new ways to give consumers better information, and calls on the Commission to consider improved food labelling.

Marketing of and trade in fishery and aquaculture products in the EU

14-07-2020

The European Union is the world's largest market for fishery and aquaculture products, with a total value of extra-EU imports and exports reaching €26.6 billion in 2018. The consumption of fish in the EU exceeded 24 kg per capita in 2017, with the highest consumption levels in Portugal and Spain. In terms of production, the EU-27, excluding the United Kingdom, ranks sixth globally. This includes catches taken by EU vessels on the high seas and in the waters of third countries. The EU's self sufficiency ...

The European Union is the world's largest market for fishery and aquaculture products, with a total value of extra-EU imports and exports reaching €26.6 billion in 2018. The consumption of fish in the EU exceeded 24 kg per capita in 2017, with the highest consumption levels in Portugal and Spain. In terms of production, the EU-27, excluding the United Kingdom, ranks sixth globally. This includes catches taken by EU vessels on the high seas and in the waters of third countries. The EU's self sufficiency ratio of 43 % in fishery and aquaculture products is rather low. As a result, internal demand is primarily met through imports. To ensure the supply of fish to the EU fish-processing industry, import duties are removed or reduced for a number of fishery products up to a specific annual import volume. In addition, products can enter the EU market, at zero or a reduced rate of duty, from countries with which the EU has a free trade agreement in force, or from developing countries that can export to the EU under the Generalised System of Preferences (GSP). In addition to tariffs, fish imports are subject to EU food hygiene regulations, which set out sanitary and phytosanitary requirements, and the EU's common fisheries policy (CFP). The CFP requirements include EU marketing standards − covering freshness and size categories − and specific labelling requirements that go beyond those required for other food products, for example the obligation to indicate the catch area and the main fishing gear used. Other market areas regulated by the EU cover the support and organisation of professional bodies and exemptions to competition rules. On the one hand, most market intervention mechanisms, such as withdrawal schemes and reference prices, have been removed since the most recent reform of the CFP in 2013. On the other hand, the EU fishing industry now has greater responsibility in the management of supply and demand. The submission of yearly production and marketing plans has become an obligation for all recognised producer organisations.

New EU rules on labelling of tyres

26-06-2020

On 17 May 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new regulation on the labelling of tyres for the purposes of fuel efficiency, safety, and noise reduction. This would replace the 2009 Tyre Labelling Regulation (TLR), while maintaining and reinforcing most of its key provisions. The new regulation seeks to increase consumer awareness of the tyre label, and improve market surveillance and enforcement of TLR provisions across the EU Member States. Suppliers would be obliged to display ...

On 17 May 2018, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a new regulation on the labelling of tyres for the purposes of fuel efficiency, safety, and noise reduction. This would replace the 2009 Tyre Labelling Regulation (TLR), while maintaining and reinforcing most of its key provisions. The new regulation seeks to increase consumer awareness of the tyre label, and improve market surveillance and enforcement of TLR provisions across the EU Member States. Suppliers would be obliged to display the tyre label in all forms of purchase, including where the tyre is not physically shown in the store and where it is sold online or on a long-distance basis. Whereas the tyre label is currently applicable to passenger and light-duty vehicles, in future it would also apply to heavy-duty vehicles. The new label would include visual information on tyre performance in snow or ice conditions, and could be adjusted by means of delegated acts to include information on mileage, abrasion or re-studded tyres. Tyre labels would be included in the new European Product Database for Energy Labelling before any sale on the EU market. On 13 November 2019, successful trilogue negotiations resulted in a provisional agreement on the content of the new regulation. The legal text was finalised and the new TLR was formally adopted by the Council and Parliament in 2020 and published in the Official Journal of the EU on 5 June 2020. Its provisions become applicable from 1 May 2021.

Sustainable finance and disclosures: Bringing clarity to investors

15-01-2020

On 24 May 2018, the Commission published three proposals for regulations reflecting the EU's efforts to connect finance with its own sustainable development agenda. The proposals include measures to: create an EU sustainable finance taxonomy; make disclosures relating to sustainable investments and sustainability risks clearer; and establish low-carbon benchmarks. In particular, the proposal for a regulation on disclosures aims to integrate environmental, social and governance considerations into ...

On 24 May 2018, the Commission published three proposals for regulations reflecting the EU's efforts to connect finance with its own sustainable development agenda. The proposals include measures to: create an EU sustainable finance taxonomy; make disclosures relating to sustainable investments and sustainability risks clearer; and establish low-carbon benchmarks. In particular, the proposal for a regulation on disclosures aims to integrate environmental, social and governance considerations into the decision-making process of investors and asset managers. It also aims to increase the transparency duties of financial intermediaries towards final-investors, with regard to sustainability risks and sustainable investment targets. This should reduce investors' research costs as regards sustainable investments and enable easier comparison between sustainable financial products in the EU. Following agreement with the Council in trilogue, Parliament voted to adopt the agreed text at first reading on 18 April 2019. Because of the tight timeline for finalisation before the end of the parliamentary term, linguistic corrections to the voted text were needed. Under the corrigendum procedure, the ECON committee and subsequently the plenary endorsed the corrected text in October 2019, allowing the Council to adopt it at first reading. Signed on 27 November, the regulation entered into force on 29 December, and will become applicable as of March 2021. Second edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Review of the European Market Infrastructure Regulation (EMIR): Updated rules on supervision of central counterparties (CCPs)

10-01-2020

The increasing importance of central counterparties (CCPs), and challenges such as the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU, call for a more comprehensive supervision of CCPs in EU and non-EU countries to secure financial market infrastructure and build confidence. In June 2017, the Commission proposed amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 (ESMA – European Securities and Markets Authority) and Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 (EMIR – European Market Infrastructure), to strengthen the regulatory ...

The increasing importance of central counterparties (CCPs), and challenges such as the United Kingdom's withdrawal from the EU, call for a more comprehensive supervision of CCPs in EU and non-EU countries to secure financial market infrastructure and build confidence. In June 2017, the Commission proposed amendments to Regulation (EU) No 1095/2010 (ESMA – European Securities and Markets Authority) and Regulation (EU) No 648/2012 (EMIR – European Market Infrastructure), to strengthen the regulatory framework. Under the proposals, EU CCPs would be supervised by national authorities in agreement with ESMA, and third-country CCPs subject to different requirements depending on whether (or not) they are systemically important. Following trilogue negotiations, Parliament voted on the resulting agreement at its plenary session of 18 April 2019. The final act was signed on 23 October 2019 and entered into force on 1 January 2020. Third edition. The 'EU Legislation in Progress' briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

Dual quality of products – State of play

25-11-2019

In recent years, the concern that some branded products might be inferior in the Member States that have joined the European Union (EU) since 2004 has become ever more apparent. This concern has come to be known as the 'dual quality of products'. To address the issue, between 2018 and 2019, the European Commission's Joint Research Service (JRC) compared a set of branded food products sold under the same name and in the same or similar packaging across Member States – the first time a harmonised testing ...

In recent years, the concern that some branded products might be inferior in the Member States that have joined the European Union (EU) since 2004 has become ever more apparent. This concern has come to be known as the 'dual quality of products'. To address the issue, between 2018 and 2019, the European Commission's Joint Research Service (JRC) compared a set of branded food products sold under the same name and in the same or similar packaging across Member States – the first time a harmonised testing methodology has been used to compare products from the whole of the European Union. The analysis sought to determine whether, despite the identical or similar packaging, there were differences in product composition and, if so, whether those differences corresponded to any geographical pattern. Results showed that about one third of the branded food products analysed had a composition that differed from one Member State to another. However, the results did not point to any geographical pattern that might explain those differences. In 2017, the Commission had already sought to clarify the relevant legislation with a notice introducing a test that national consumer protection authorities could use to determine on a case by case basis whether the dual quality of food products was misleading. Later, in April 2018, in the framework of the 'new deal for consumers', its proposal for a new directive on modernisation of EU consumer protection rules sought to include the dual quality of products (not just of food products) in the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive. The European Parliament has long voiced its concerns about the dual quality of products and had called for it to be added to the 'blacklist' of practices that should always be considered as banned. However, the text of the new directive on modernisation of consumer protection rules as adopted by the co-legislators did not include dual quality as a practice that must be considered unfair in all cases, but rather as one that must be proven to be misleading on a case-by-case basis. The European Consumer Organisation (BEUC) has criticised this, while business organisations defend the right of companies to differentiate their products in different markets.

Commitments made at the hearing of Stella KYRIAKIDES, Commissioner-designate - Health

22-11-2019

The commissioner-designate, Stella Kyriakides, appeared before the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European Parliament on 01 October 2019 to answer MEPs’ questions. During the hearing, she made a number of oral commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to her portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to her by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including "protecting and promoting public health" and ...

The commissioner-designate, Stella Kyriakides, appeared before the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety Committee of the European Parliament on 01 October 2019 to answer MEPs’ questions. During the hearing, she made a number of oral commitments which are highlighted in this document. These commitments refer to her portfolio, as described in the mission letter sent to her by Ursula von der Leyen, President-elect of the European Commission, including "protecting and promoting public health" and "food safety and animal and plant health".

Study in Focus on EU Public Health Policies - State of play, current and future challenges

11-11-2019

This study provides an outlook on the topics that may shape the ENVI Committee’s public health agenda during the new legislature. It describes key public health definitions, principles and concepts, discusses the EU’s powers to act on health, and presents an overview of health policy developments and challenges. This document was provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament.

This study provides an outlook on the topics that may shape the ENVI Committee’s public health agenda during the new legislature. It describes key public health definitions, principles and concepts, discusses the EU’s powers to act on health, and presents an overview of health policy developments and challenges. This document was provided by Policy Department A at the request of the Committee on the Environment, Public Health and Food Safety of the European Parliament.

Externe Autor

Nikolai PUSHKAREV, Fiona GODFREY, Sascha MARSCHANG, Zoltán, MASSAY-KOSUBEK, Yannis NATSIS, Ann Marie BORG, Vivana GALLI

Framework for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP)

26-08-2019

Europe's population is ageing, due to people living longer and having fewer children, putting pressure on pension systems and leading to reforms to make public pensions more sustainable – and often less generous – in future. To support retirement incomes, the European Commission's 2012 pensions white paper called for more opportunities for citizens to save in safe and good-value complementary pensions. The aim of the proposed framework for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) was to encourage ...

Europe's population is ageing, due to people living longer and having fewer children, putting pressure on pension systems and leading to reforms to make public pensions more sustainable – and often less generous – in future. To support retirement incomes, the European Commission's 2012 pensions white paper called for more opportunities for citizens to save in safe and good-value complementary pensions. The aim of the proposed framework for a pan-European personal pension product (PEPP) was to encourage the development of personal (voluntary, individually funded) pensions in Europe, to support retirement saving and strengthen the single market for capital by making more funds available for investment. Generally the proposal was considered a welcome extra option to support retirement savings and investment. However differing national pension systems and tax treatments were noted as challenges, although the Commission also issued an accompanying tax recommendation. Following trilogue negotiations, an agreement was reached on the legislative proposal. It was subsequently approved by the Parliament on 4 April 2019 and by the Council on 14 June 2019. The final act was signed on 20 June 2019. Third edition of a briefing originally drafted by David Eatock. The ‘EU Legislation in Progress’ briefings are updated at key stages throughout the legislative procedure.

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