Ecolabelling Board given legal backing

Regulations giving statutory backing to the UK Ecolabelling Board and spelling out its powers and duties were laid before Parliament on 9 October.1

The regulations establish the Ecolabelling Board as the "competent body" for the purposes of the 1992 EC Regulation which established a Community eco-labelling scheme. This is now expected to be launched early in 1993.

The Board's main tasks will be to propose to the European Commission that specific product groups should be included in the scheme and, where requested by Brussels, to draw up eco-labelling criteria for these. It will also administer the scheme within the UK, processing manufacturers' applications for an eco-label and publicising the scheme to manufacturers, retailers and consumers.

The regulations add that the Board will, at the Secretary of State's request, represent the UK on the Regulatory Committee of national officials which will assist the Commission in taking the final decision on eco-labelling criteria for product groups and overseeing the operation of the scheme.

A schedule to the regulations deals with the Board's constitution, proceedings and financial powers and duties. The Board will be at arms' length from Government, but will be overseen by the Parliamentary Commissioner. It must prepare an annual report and accounts to be laid before Parliament.

The regulations stipulate that the Board must draw up rules of conduct to ensure that its members "avoid any conflicts of interest between their individual personal or business affairs and their responsibilities as members of the Board." The members include individuals from industries such as chemicals, petroleum, white goods and retailing, as well as consumer and environmental organisations (ENDS Report 211, p 25 ).

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