NNDKP Environment Flash No.1/2024

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2023 Retrospective. Important EU and National Environmental Developments

2023 proved to be a year of significant environmental developments, one of the most challenging periods in recent times in terms of environmental legislative initiatives.

Looking back to 2023, we have selected some of the developments at EU and national level that are certain to have a profound and lasting impact on society in general and on businesses in particular.

2024 will undoubtedly continue to be a challenging year. Some developments from 2023 will be completed or implemented, while others will start to show their impact.


1. Proposal for a Directive on green claims

On 22 March, the European Commission adopted a proposal for a Directive on green claims. The aims are, among others, to combat “greenwashing” by preventing companies from making misleading claims about the environmental benefits of their products and services.

The proposal covers explicit environmental claims (e.g.: “packaging made from 30% recycled plastic”), and not generic environmental claims (e.g.: “eco-friendly product”), which are covered by another proposal for a Directive on empowering consumers for the green transition from March 2022.

The proposal includes requirements on how companies should substantiate their explicit environmental claims and environmental labels, and requirements for these claims and labels to be verified by an independent and accredited verifier.

2. Proposal for amending the Directive 2008/98/EC on waste

On 5 July, the European Commission adopted a proposal to amend Directive 2008/98/EC on waste to address issues related to the generation and management of textile and food waste.

Among others, the proposal introduces mandatory and harmonized extended producer responsibility schemes for textiles, which means that producers will have to bear the costs of textile waste management.

For more details on the proposed new requirements for textiles and textile waste,  visit the following link.

3. New Batteries and Waste Batteries Regulation came into force

The new Batteries and Waste Batteries Regulation entered into force on 17 August. It will apply starting with 18 February 2024, except for certain provisions which will become applicable later. Since regulations are directly applicable in Romania, there is no need to transpose it.

Among others, the Regulation sets requirements on sustainability, safety, labelling, marking for the placing on the market or putting into service of batteries and introduces minimum requirements for extended producer responsibility, the collection and treatment of waste batteries.

The scope of the Regulation covers all categories of batteries, regardless of their shape, volume, weight, design, material composition, chemistry, use or purpose, and regardless of whether they are incorporated into or added to products or are specifically designed to be incorporated into or added to products.

4. Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains entered into force

On 29 June, the Regulation on deforestation-free supply chains entered into force. Some of its provisions will apply starting with 30 December 2024.

The Regulation sets out requirements for certain goods exported or placed on the EU market to be deforestation-free.

Among others, companies must be able to demonstrate that the product has been produced on land that is free from deforestation and forest degradation after 31 December 2020.

The aims are to minimize EU’s contribution to global deforestation, greenhouse gas emissions and global biodiversity loss.

5. The Carbon Boarder Adjustment Mechanism entered into application in its transitional phase

On 1 October, the Carbon Boarder Adjustment Mechanism (CBAM) entered into application in its transitional phase which lasts until 31 December 2025.

Its main aim is to prevent the risk of carbon leakage by ensuring that the carbon price for imported goods is the same as the carbon price for the same categories of goods produced in the EU. The risk of carbon leakage exists when carbon-intensive production is relocated outside the EU considering less stringent standards, or when EU products are replaced by cheaper but more carbon-intensive products.

CBAM covers the following goods originating in a third country and imported into the customs territory of the EU: cement, iron and steel, aluminum, fertilizers, electricity, and hydrogen.

During the transition period, obligations are limited to quarterly reporting.

6. Provisional agreement on the proposal for a Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law

On 21 November, a provisional agreement was reached on the proposal for a Directive on the protection of the environment through criminal law criminal.

Its aim is to establish minimum rules on the definition of criminal offences and sanctions to better protect the environment, replacing the previous Directive 2008/99/EC.

7. Provisional agreement on the proposal for amending Directive 2012/19/EU on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE)

On 21 November, a provisional agreement was reached on the proposal for amending the WEEE Directive.

The proposal aims to bring the WEEE Directive into line with the EU Court of Justice ruling of 25 January 2022 in case C-181/20 on the unjustified retroactive application of extended producer responsibility to waste from photovoltaic panels placed on the market between 13 August 2005 and 13 August 2012.

8. Provisional agreement on the Ecodesign Regulation

On 5 December, a provisional agreement was reached on the proposed Regulation establishing a framework for setting ecodesign requirements for sustainable products.

The ecodesign requirements relate, among others, to product durability and reliability, product reusability, product upgradability, reparability, maintenance and refurbishment, and to recycled content in products.

The Regulation also introduces a digital product passport, mandatory green public procurement criteria and a framework to prevent the destruction of unsold consumer goods.

9. Financial penalties on Romania for having failed to close unauthorized landfills

On 14 December, the EU Court of Justice fined Romania (ruling in case C-109/22) for failing to close 31 out of 68 illegal landfills. The Court had already found that Romania had failed to close down 68 landfills in a judgment delivered in 2018 in C-301/17.

The Court ordered Romania to pay a lump sum of €1.5 million and a penalty of €600 per landfill and per day of delay.


1. The amended Procedure for the application of the annual visa of the environmental authorization and the integrated environmental authorization entered into force

As of 9 January, following the changes to the Procedure, the late submission of an application for an annual visa will no longer lead to the suspension of the activity if the authority decides that it is possible to complete the procedure by the date corresponding to the day and month when the initial authorization was granted.

The amended Procedure also introduces criteria for determining the premises to be inspected before the annual visa is issued. Thus, the previous provisions of the Procedure which required premises to be inspected at a certain frequency have been eliminated.

2. The Action Plan for the National Strategy for the Circular Economy has been adopted

On 10 October, the Action Plan for the National Strategy for the Circular Economy entered into force. It builds on and complements the National Strategy for Circular Economy adopted in 2022.

Among other things, the Action Plan presents specific actions for the nine economic sectors identified as having the greatest potential for circularity in the Romanian economy. The sectors selected are packaging, textiles, electrical and electronic equipment including batteries and two sectors of general relevance, namely waste, water, and sanitation.

3. The Deposit-Return System (DRS) went live

On 30 November, the Deposit Return System (DRS) for non-refillable primary packaging went live, becoming the second largest of its kind in the EU.

The DRS applies to non-refillable primary packaging made of glass, plastic, or metal with a volume between 0.1l and 3l inclusive, having the specific DRS marking.

Consumers or final users pay a deposit of RON 0.50 when purchasing a beverage in DRS packaging (water, soft drinks, beer, cider, wine, spirits).

Once the packaging has been emptied, the consumers or final users will be able to recover the RON 0.50 paid as a deposit for each DRS packaging by returning the DRS packaging. This cand be done to any return point organized by retailers, regardless of where the packaged products were purchased. The deposit refund is not conditional on the presentation of the receipt.

4. Romania’s Long-Term Strategy for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions was approved

Legislation approving Romania’s Long-Term Strategy for Reducing Greenhouse Gas Emissions entered into force on 7 December.

This document was adopted in view of Romania’s obligation to prepare and submit to the European Commission a strategy for the reduction of greenhouse gas emissions with a perspective of at least 30 years.

Three scenarios were analyzed in the Strategy and the Neutral Romania scenario was selected for implementation by 2050. The Neutral Romania scenario aims to achieve climate neutrality for Romania in 2050 by reducing net emissions by 99% compared to 1990 levels.

5. A new Procedure for issuing water management authorization has entered into force

On 18 December, a new Procedure for issuing water management authorization has entered into force.

The Procedure regulates, among others, the procedural steps for issuing, amending, transferring, withdrawing, and suspending water management authorizations, as well as the powers for issuing water management authorizations.

The new Procedure replaces the previous one which was adopted in 2019.

The Romanian version of this newsletter is available here.

[1] Both EU and national developments are listed chronologically.

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