The review of the EU’s F-gas Regulation: a legislative timeline
The review of the EU’s F-gas Regulation: a legislative timeline
The European Union adopted its first F-gas regulation in 2006, which focused primarily on the prevention of leakage of the gases in-use phase and in end-of-life of stationary equipment. The current F-gas Regulation entered into force in 2015, repealing and broadening the scope of the 2006 regulation. Data shows that F-gas emissions have been decreasing since 2015, underlining the success of the current Regulation. In 2020, the European Commission began the process to review the current Regulation.
The European FluoroCarbons Technical Committee (EFCTC) members recognise the importance of the work and contribution from all stakeholders to date on the F-gas Regulation. F-gas producers, downstream users and industry associations have been proactively engaged in the process, collaborating constructively with the authorities.
On June 29 2020 the European Commission opened feedback period for citizen stakeholders to share their review of the 2014 F-gas Regulation in place as part of an impact assessment on whether a review of EU rules would be needed.
EFCTC welcomed the opportunity to provide feedback, outlining the success of the 2014 F-gas Regulation in promoting and enabling the transition towards low GWP alternatives as the industry gradually introduces low GWP HFCs, HCFOs and HFOs. In light of increasing illegal trade of HFCs, the EFCTC also considered that provisions to enhance enforcement to be a critical aspect to the revision of the Regulation.
In their feedback to the European Commission, the EFCTC requests the Commission to align the regulation with the provisions in the Montreal Protocol and the EU’s objective of a carbon-neutral, circular economy by 2040.
In the Autumn of 2020, the European Commission opened a public consultation for stakeholder feedback and input on proposed policy options for the revision going forward. In response, the EFCTC submitted its position to the consultation, recommending four key focus areas for the revision of the regulation:
- Improving the functioning of the legitimate supply chain, including reclamation and destruction
- Strengthening measures to eliminate illegal trade
- Delivering HFC emissions reductions
- Maintaining market flexibility and avoiding market disruption with the existing phase-down schedule and use bans.
Following the consultation, the European Commission organized a stakeholder workshop in May 2021 to offer stakeholders the opportunity to share their position on potential options for the revision of the F-gas Regulation. The EFCTC welcomed the opportunity to take part in the workshop to share their position and recommendations.
Following the workshop, in response to request by the consultants for further information, the EFCTC provided additional comments and information, highlighting, in particular that the modelling work shown during the Stakeholder workshop was not sufficiently transparent to enable a comprehensive assessment of the conclusions presented.
1.0 The European Commission publishes its proposed revisions to the F-gas Regulation
In April 2022 the file entered in legislative phase when the European Commission published its proposal for the revision of the F-gas Regulation revision proposal.
The EFCTC welcomed the Commission’s proposal, particularly the proposed new provisions to improve enforcement and prevent illegal trade in F-gases, but shared concerns that the earlier and more severe proposed phase-down could undermine the goals of the RePower EU Action Plan. F-gases are used in heat pumps and the Action Plan sets targets to roll out 10 million heat pumps in Europe over the next five years.
Following the publication of the proposal, the Commission opened a feedback period to gain insights from stakeholders on the proposal. As part of this feedback period, EFCTC shared its position paper, emphasizing that the phase-down must be carefully calibrated to ensure that it does not disrupt the transition that Europe already pursues. The paper also highlighted members commitment to the transition to lower GWP refrigerants.
2.0 The Commission’s proposal is submitted the European Parliament and the Council of European Union
After the European Parliament appointed rapporteurs for the file in the leading ENVI Committee and the opinion-giving ITRE Committee in the summer, EFCTC engaged with Rapporteur and Shadow MEPs, as well as with experts in the national ministries to share their position on the Regulation. In October, EFCTC convened a discussion in the European Parliament bringing downstream users and relevant stakeholders together to discuss the challenges and opportunities of the review.
In December 2022, the European Parliament ENVI Committee published its draft report on the file, followed by a policy debate on the suggested review. This was followed by the adoption of the ITRE Committee opinion on the F-gas Regulation which was welcomed by EFCTC as it recognizes key points of concern from industry.
Ahead of the ENVI Committee Vote on the proposed revisions to the F-gas Regulation, the EFCTC and several downstream users and other stakeholders wrote an open letter calling on the European Parliament to adopt realistic and sustainable solutions to achieve carbon neutrality by 2050. When the later ENVI Committee adopted their report in March 2023 pushing for faster transition to alternatives, the EFCTC and others trade associations part of an industry alliance expressed concerns that the ENVI Committee amendments proposing a ban of F-gases are unrealistic. This was followed by concrete proposals from the alliance for a practical approach to the European Parliament.
On 30 March 2023 the European Parliament voted in Plenary to adopt its position on the F-gas Regulation revision which proposes to ban F-gases – including low Global Warming Potential (GWP) – in the following 3-5 years. While the EFCTC welcomed amendments which improved the future enforcement of the Regulation, the Committee highlighted that other amendments on the ban of F-gases would have significant consequences for refrigeration and air-conditioning equipment, amongst other issues. This was followed by a joint industry statement which expressed significant concern that the amendments adopted in the European Parliament are not technically feasible in all applications, risk the safety and energy efficiency of some equipment, do not allow enough time to properly train installers and service technicians, and are not affordable for many Europeans.
On 5 April 2023, national delegations of the Council of EU (COREPER) adopted their negotiation mandate for the presidency to start negotiations with the European Parliament to reach a compromise text. An industry alliance of 10 leading European trade associations including EFCTC responded the European Council’s announcement of the agreed mandate expressing concern with the lack of granularity of their agreed mandate which could lead to complications for the implementation of the regulation.
Interinstitutional negotiations (trilogues)
On 3 May 2023, the institutional parties (the European Commission, the European Parliament and the Council) entered into institutional negotiations known as trilogues to agree on a final text together before the revisions to the F-gas Regulation are adopted.
Since the beginning of May, the Commission, Council and Parliament have met on an almost weekly to discuss numerous technical details of the Regulation. Due to the distance in positions, a majority of topics such as the application specific bans or the phase down schedule have been pushed to the political trilogue scheduled for 19 July 2023. Both co-legislators are currently considering flexibilities in their position to complete the negotiations.