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Calls for illegal HFC crackdown in F-gas review

UK: Refrigerant suppler A-Gas is amongst a number of companies calling for stronger enforcement and dissuasive penalties to stop the illegal trade of HFCs.

In its submission to the European Commission’s consultation on changes to the F-gas regulation (517/2014), A-Gas claims that the current regulation is being undermined by the large and continued importation of illegal HFCs.

It calls for a strengthening of the level and severity of sanctions for those caught importing illegal quantities of HFCs and for those that have illegally exceeded their quota entitlement. It also wants the penalties to be harmonised across the EU.

“They [the fines] need to be increased in financial and reputational severity to be dissuasive enough to bring this illegal activity to an end,” A-Gas says.

It also believes the penalties should also apply to anyone who is in possession of quantities of F-gas without clear proof it was imported legally.

The submission by A-Gas is one of just 27 made so far to the Commission’s request for feedback to its proposed review of the current regulations. The deadline for feedback is midnight tomorrow (September 7) CEST. 

Other submissions, mainly from stakeholders who have remained anonymous, are also critical of the seeming failure to control the illegal sales. One claims to “feel fooled” by the regulations: “We lose twice, sell less gas, earn less and the environment is penalised by a greater quantity of gas than established. Either there are very strict border controls or F-gas is just a political joke.”

Another suggests the Commission should take measures to ensure that all member states properly enforce the regulation, not just checks and seizures at the border to prevent illegal F-gases imports.

Effective, proportionate and dissuasive

While not specifically mentioning illegal imports, the submission from the European Partnership for Energy and the Environment (EPEE) recognises that the penalty schemes for infringements differ widely between member states and calls for penalties to be “effective, proportionate and dissuasive”.

“To ensure proper enforcement of the F-gas regulation, stringent and dissuasive penalty schemes remain a key factor for success,” it says.

The Commission has already indicated that it is looking to counter the problems of illegal imports and abuses of the quota system by providing greater powers to customs and surveillance authorities. This includes a link to the Single Window for Customs database and real-time per-shipment tracking in the HFC licensing system.

Related stories:

EC seeks feedback on F-gas review1 July 2020
EUROPE: The European Commission is seeking feedback from the market on the forthcoming review of the F-gas regulations (517/2014) which could place further restrictions on HFC refrigerants. Read more…

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