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EC commits to beat illegal HFC trade

EUROPE: The European Commission has repeated that it is aware of the black market in HFCs and insists it is taking targeted action to prevent the illegal trade.

In May, Spain’s César Luena became the latest MEP to raise questions regarding the implementation of the F-gas regulation (517/2014). He asked whether the Commission was aware of the illegal trade, what action it was taking to combat it, and what incentives were offered to use other climate-friendly substances such as HFOs?

In a written reply, the Commission’s executive vice-president Frans Timmermans insisted that a number of targeted actions had been taken to prevent the illegal trade.

Among a number of moves, he lists the Environmental Council meeting in March last year, at which all member states were encouraged to take action against the illegal trade, and the conference on the problem by the Commission’s anti-fraud office, held in January.

Timmermans pointed to the integrated trade restrictions for fluorinated gases in the customs classification of goods which required importers of HFCs to be registered in the F-gas portal and HFC licencing system. He confirmed that similar trade restrictions were being integrated into the EU Single Window environment for customs. This, he maintained, would result in automatic compliance checks of every shipment declared for release for free circulation. 


Timmermans insists that many measures in the F-gas regulation and the MAC Directive (2006/40/EC), including the quota system and various new equipment restrictions, provide incentives to switch to more climate friendly refrigerants. 

He also pointed to the financed projects under the LIFE programme that facilitate the replacement of fluorinated gases. Launched in 1992, the LIFE Programme is one of the spearheads of EU environmental and climate funding. Last year, the EC announced an increase in funding to €5.45bn.

Related stories:

Spanish MEP questions EC action on illegal HFCs30 May 2020
EUROPE: Pressure on the European Commission to take action against illegal HFC refrigerant imports continues, with a Spanish MEP claiming the black market trade “jeopardises” the F-gas phase down. Read more…

EC fraud office makes illegal F-gas imports a priority26 January 2020
BELGIUM: The fight against illegal imports of HFC refrigerants into the EU is said to have been made an operational priority for OLAF, the European Commission’s anti-fraud office. Read more…

EU proposes €5.45bn LIFE budget2 June 2018
EUROPE: The EC is looking to increase funding under its LIFE environment and climate action programme to €5.45bn. Read more…

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