Eco-labelling arrangements still up in the air

The first meeting of competent bodies under the EC's eco-labelling scheme was dominated by debates on fundamental aspects of the scheme, including the case for independent testing or certification of manufacturers' product claims and the need for greater harmonisation of national procedures for assessing products against the criteria for a label. Details of the likely fees to be paid by manufacturers have also emerged.

The scheme was due to be launched this year, but the first product groups to carry an eco-label are now unlikely to appear on the shelves before next March at the earliest. In the meantime, several key issues need to be resolved which could delay the scheme still further.

Representatives of nine Member States attended the meeting in London at the end of October. Only six have established competent bodies to run the scheme. These are the U

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