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ILLEGAL TRADE ROUND-UP March 2020

ILLEGAL TRADE ROUND-UP March 2020

03.03.2020

In this round-up: EFCTC position paper on enforcing the F-gas regulation; OLAF conference; the 4th F-gas consultation forum; EIA analysis of 2018 illegal imports; seizures and enforcement; and OzonAction guidance on illegal imports.

EFCTC Position Paper: Enforcing the EU F-Gas Regulation, what can Member States do? This paper explores the tools that Member States have, or can create, in the context of the EU-F-Gas Regulation. The legal base of the EU F-Gas regulation is article 191(1) of the Treaty on the Functioning of the European Union. It therefore leaves it to Member States to take additional measures as long as they do not interfere with the fundamental principles of the European Union, in particular, the free circulation of goods and persons. In the context of the rise of illegal trade in HFCs (HFCs that are placed on the market without quota), we suggest some tools that Member State can implement without the need for an amendment to the F-Gas Regulation. Read the complete position paper here.

OLAF conference on the fight against illegal imports of refrigerant gases into the EU: EFCTC participated in the conference held on 23 and 24 January. The conference brought together experts from the EU national customs administrations and from the ministries of environment as well as representatives from EU industry. The objective was twofold: to listen and gather information from industry and other stakeholders that could help OLAF with its work; to share experience and strengthen the exchange of information among customs authorities and the competent environmental authorities. To handle cross-border fraud, customs and environmental authorities as well as industry need to work together with the support of the European Commission. EFCTC recognises and appreciates the efforts of OLAF in combating illegal trade.

The 4th F-gas consultation forum on 25th March has “the progress of the HFC phase-down incl. actions to prevent illegal imports” as one of the agenda items.

The EIA (Environmental Investigation Agency) analysis indicates that HFC illegal imports accounted for about 7 Mtes CO2e in 2018 equivalent to 7% of the allowable quota, has called for stronger enforcement, but acknowledges that member states are making progress in strengthening enforcement at the border (see cooling post articles one and two).

Seizures of illegal HFCs and enforcement:

  • ITALY: A total of 12.5 tonnes of illegal HFCs were seized in operations on 5 and 6 February by customs officials working in co-operation with OLAF. According to the OLAF press release the HFCS are high GWP equivalent to 26,269 tonnes of CO2 and the operation resulted from information received by OLAF (European anti-fraud office) and the close cooperation with the Italian Customs Agency (see LaRPF).
  • BULGARIA: Nearly 13 tonnes of HFC-134a in disposable cylinders was confiscated by customs officials on the border with Turkey on 23 January following the inspection of a truck carry auto-parts (see cooling post).
  • ROMANIA: Due to its failure to adopt penalties for infringements of the F-gas Regulation 517/2014, the Commission has issued a formal request to comply with EU law (see Cooling Post). EFCTC welcomes the action by the European Commission to escalate the case against Romania for failing to adopt measures on penalties for breaches in the F-gas Regulation. See the EFCTC press release here.

UNEP OzonAction guidance for illegal trade in ODS. The guidance brochure can equally apply to HFCs but is aimed at countries where the phase-out of ozone depleting substances is still occurring. The brochure explains the 5 options for seized substances, their applicability and the issues involved for each option. The brochure can be downloaded here. Destruction is one of the options and for the EU and illegal HFCs, EFCTC recommended that destruction is the preferred approach (see EFCTC press release on this subject).

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