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ESC calls for reinforcement of Community Ecolabel

The Economic and Social Committee of the European Communities has adopted an opinion on the proposed Council Regulation establishing a revised Community "Ecolabel" system.

The Committee believes that the future of the Ecolabel will depend on the reinforcement of the Community...
The Economic and Social Committee of the European Communities has adopted an opinion on the proposed Council Regulation establishing a revised Community "Ecolabel" system.

The Committee believes that the future of the Ecolabel will depend on the reinforcement of the Community system and that it is imperative to harmonize the criteria applied under each national system in order to avoid the creation of obstacles to trade.

With regard to the Commission's proposal the Committee expressed reservations concerning the introduction of a graded label system. This has not met with much enthusiasm among producers and the Committee feels that it risks causing confusion among consumers.

The ESC supports a transitory period of five years between the definition of Community criteria for a given product range and the application of these criteria at national level (replacing national criteria). It further emphasizes the need to harmonise national criteria and to vigorously dissuade private labels.

The creation of the "European Ecological Label Organization" was approved by the Committee but the Commission was requested to find solutions addressing the concern of national organizations that, at least for the time being, the final responsibility for the adoption of criteria remain with the Commission.

The Committee insisted on the importance of consultation with the relevant socio-economic groups and requested that the accommodation of the Consultative Forum within the ESC be formally recognized. With regard to the financing of the system, a revision in three years time is recommended in order to assess the financial independence of the system. In addition, the ESC feels that it would be appropriate, following the withdrawal of the Commission, for Member States to contribute to the operation of the system, given the advantages which will result from the Ecolabel, both for the general community and for the environment.
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