BRUSSELS, Nov. 25, 2021 /PRNewswire/ — A panel of policymakers from European Union (EU) institutions and member states, as well as leaders from industry recently came together to discuss how to put an end to the illegal trade of hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs). The event was hosted by MEP and Industry, Research and Energy (ITRE) Committee Chair Cristian-Silviu Bușoi and organised by the European FluoroCarbons Technical Committee (EFCTC).
The black market has been thriving in the EU over the past years due to uneven enforcement of the EU F-gas regulation’s quota system for HFCs. The event was an opportunity to exchange experiences and effective measures to stop this black market from harming legitimate business, feeding organised crime and undermining the EU’s climate policy.
The panellists agreed that there is not one way to combat HFC smuggling and that authorities need to be very agile: “We need to catch up with these fraudsters. They are very clever in finding new opportunities to make profits illegally,” said Ernesto Bianchi, Director for Revenue and International Operations and acting Deputy Director-General at the European Anti-Fraud Office, OLAF.
Bente Tranholm-Schwarz, European Commission Deputy Head of Unit at the Directorate-General for Climate Action, added: “The Commission is aiming to close these holes with the help of the new F-gas regulation which will be proposed next year.”
Recently, some member states have taken effective steps to address the issue. Konstantinos Aravossis, Secretary General for Natural Environment and Water at Greek Ministry of Environment and Energy, spoke about recent steps taken in Greece where a Ministerial Decision is due to be implemented to combat HFC smuggling. Pärtel Niitaru from the Estonian Ministry of the Environment also presented planned measures in Estonia which include increased fines and a ban of the possession and sales of non-refillable containers.
Information sharing between member state authorities was raised as another way to remain one step ahead of HFC smugglers. Panellists suggested pooling intelligence and bringing together data from multiple sources to better understand and combat illegally traded HFCs from entering the EU. Cooperation would also ensure that when enforcement is strengthened at one border, smuggling is not simply displaced to another trade route.
MEP Cristian-Silviu Busoi closed the discussion, calling for MEPs to raise awareness in their home countries. “The key issue is to enforce the current legislation,” he concluded.
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