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EU red tape ‘risks exporting battery jobs’, ILA warns

Mon, 10/08/2018 - 00:00 -- John Shepherd
Dr Andy Bush

Thousands of battery jobs risk being axed in Europe and ‘exported’ to overseas competitors as a result of unnecessary and restrictive legislation, lead-acid industry bosses have warned.

A European Commission proposal for an “in-effect ban” on the use of four chemical compounds, mainly used in the manufacture of lead batteries, is still on the table, the head of the International Lead Association (ILA) Dr Andy Bush has warned.

The proposal “is now threatening the future of the continent’s battery-making capability and the industries it supports”, Bush told an intergovernmental meeting in Portugal on 5 October.

Bush reiterated industry fears of the “unintended consequences” that would flow from a Commission decision to add four lead compounds— all of which are “irreplaceable in lead battery production”— to its REACH (Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals) authorisation list.

The REACH process sets an end date for the use of the compounds concerned— which are only used in the manufacturing stage, and are not included in the final battery, which is fully sealed, limiting consumer exposure to its contents.

“This move also favours lead battery producers outside of the EU, who are not affected by the legislation, meaning in future the batteries will need to be imported when the authorisation period ends,” Bush said. 

“This approach sets an end date for the use of these substances, and sends a signal to investors, the business community and to the market that lead battery manufacturing in Europe will be prohibited after a given period.”

“That is a guaranteed way of stunting future growth and disincentivising further investment or innovation…. at the same time as the Commission is launching a batteries action plan for Europe,” Bush said.

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