The European Union is one of the largest and wealthiest consumer markets in the world.
Fast-moving consumer goods (FMCG) raise environmental and social sustainability challenges. They also face issues on consumer protection and safety in the single market. The EU now wants to ensure that goods, services and business models become more sustainable and that consumers are better protected.
FH Brussels has long-standing and wide-ranging experience in public affairs and communications, political intelligence and media services to help consumer goods companies to navigate the EU’s policymaking.
How will the EU’s Green Deal Impact Fast Moving Consumer Goods?
FMCG manufacturers and retailers are under a microscope. The European Commission wants to promote more sustainable production and consumption patterns under the Green Deal and the New Circular Economy Action Plan. Food, beverages, textiles and electronics will be considerably impacted by the upcoming policy initiatives.
Circular economy, reporting, and new regulations
The upcoming proposal for the EU’s Sustainable Product Policy Framework targets the buy, use and dispose model. It includes a revision of Ecodesign rules to address durability, reusability, upgradability and reparability concerns beyond energy-related products.
The ‘EU Textile Strategy’ will likely introduce Ecodesign criteria for textiles. With the ‘Circular Electronics Initiative’, new measures are in the pipeline for devices. These will include addressing planned obsolescence and creating a common charger solution. In parallel, the revision of the EU Battery Directive will encompass end-of-life and sustainability requirements for all batteries.
Substances will be subject to intensified scrutiny in the design phase of products. The EU will look at the Restriction of Hazardous Substances Directive (RoHS) and seek to improve the interface with the REACH Regulation and the Ecodesign Directive.
New initiatives will seek to promote reusable products in food services to replace single-use packaging, tableware and cutlery. The EU is also looking at the regulatory requirements for food contact materials. It is considering to introduce new general requirements, safeguard measures and labelling requirements to enhance consumer protection and improve the functioning of the single market.
Additional measures are in the pipeline to promote imported consumer products and value-chains that do not involve deforestation and forest degradation. Such measures could include ‘hard’ and ‘soft’ law as well as incentives for voluntary self-regulation.
The European Commission is committed to improving social sustainability and ensuring a socially just transition to a climate-neutral economy. Companies will be targeted through initiatives aimed at improving transparency on sustainability in the context of the revision of the Non-Financial Reporting Directive, and initiatives on sustainable corporate governance and environmental accounting.
Empowering consumers: new obligations for companies?
The European Commission will make new proposals to empower consumers in the green transition.
The EU wants to ensure that consumers obtain reliable and useful information on products, e.g. on their lifespan and repair options, preventing overstated environmental information (‘greenwashing’) and sale of products with a covertly shortened lifespan, setting minimum requirements for sustainability logos & labels.
To stay competitive, companies will have to deal with these structural changes and re-think the way they design and market their goods.
Companies will have to pay increased attention to consumers protection in several areas due to amendments to the Unfair Commercial Practices Directive (UCPD) introduced in November 2019, as part of the 2018 ‘New Deal for Consumers’. Rules on purchases through online marketplaces, transparency of price personalisation and ranking of online offers and consumer rights when using ‘free’ online services will need to be put in place by the Member States.
The EU’s General Product Safety Directive (GPSD) is subject to a review to enhance the protection of consumers.
The European Commission wants to update the safety framework. It is 20 years old and does not reflect the most recent developments in products and markets. It needs modernisation to address the safety risks posed by products incorporating new technologies, food-imitating products and to tackle the new challenges posed by e-commerce.
These efforts will likely have an impact on companies in the chemical sector, notably when dangerous chemicals are at stake.
Our team of consultants has in-depth expertise on product policy and is ready to assist you in setting clear objectives for your outreach as well as in ensuring the successful roll-out of engagement programmes. We will help you by facilitation of contacts with policymakers, preparation of required background, and follow-up actions.
- Positioning and sustainability advice
We help you understand the political dynamics which can impact your company and products, identifying risks and opportunities. We give you insights on what’s going on behind the scenes in Brussels and at the national level and provide thought leadership on the future political context for your business.
- Execution of advocacy programmes
We ensure your voice is heard in Brussels through every step of policymaking by developing a public affairs programme that resonates with policymakers in the European Commission, Parliament, or in the EU Member States. We can also directly support you when meeting policymakers.
Without any evaluation, the success or failure of engagement can’t be understood. We give you tools that enable you to track the progress of engagement and provide you with a full assessment of results.
- Communications, third-party mobilisation and media
Any political debate is shaped by perception, we help you manage the external noise that affects your case and to mobilise your supporters.
We have extensive experience and expertise in communicating business challenges to policymakers. We help you in selecting the best communications channels for your issue, in the development of striking content and dissemination to your audiences.
Our team regularly engages with the media on environmental issues. We are experienced in both proactively and reactively engaging with media in Brussels and across the EU.
Value-chain engagement and mobilisation are often essential to meet advocacy and communications objectives. Our team has a wide network in Brussels and a track record of successfully mobilising support in favour of our client’s cases and creating alliances.
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