Companies from all sectors of the economy are heavily affected by a highly complex set of EU and Member State rules to protect the environment, from the automotive sector to aviation, semiconductors as well as life sciences, chemicals and energy, electronic consumer goods just as much as the food sector, and insurance companies as well as investors. Environmental policy decisions taken by EU and Member State legislators and regulators impact the competitiveness of European exports and affect imports into Europe from all around the world. They create business opportunities for clean tech and other companies; inform research and development strategies and product development decisions; and influence investment decisions by financial and strategic investors. A thorough understanding of EU environmental, waste and chemicals regulation has become indispensable for all businesses that produce, import or invest in the EU.
Our European Environment, Waste and Chemicals practice helps you navigate through the rules relevant to your business. Working for a diverse group of corporate clients from the chemicals, biotech, seed, food, electronics, aviation, automotive and many other industries as well as for trade associations and government institutions, we have a proven track record in this field. We have years of experience dealing with environmental product content restrictions and environmental and waste management issues, including end-of-life product responsibility, cross-border waste shipment, mining waste, collection and recycling, biocides and cosmetics regulation and nature conservation rules. We regularly advise clients on matters under the EU’s Waste Electrical and Electronic Equipment Directive (the WEEE Directive) and the hazardous substances directive (the RoHS Directive). Our lawyers have been involved with the EU Regulation on Registration, Evaluation, Authorisation and Restriction of Chemicals (the REACH Regulation) from its earliest stages, representing European and non-European chemical federations in the elaboration of the legislation itself, and have advised on the implementation of the REACH Regulation.
Environmental issues are rarely limited to one jurisdiction and frequently intertwined with complex political, social and economic interests. Our clients therefore often face complex legal issues, the need to decide on appropriate business responses and make strategic choices. In addition to our knowledge of the rules, we offer our clients the established strengths in EU policy and legislative advocacy of our public policy and legal strategy team, and our clients benefit from the integration of our European environmental, waste and chemicals team into a global interdisciplinary practice of 20 environmental lawyers. Our global team has substantial expertise advising companies on how best to position themselves in light of globally intensifying environmental issues in Europe, the US and China. Moreover, as changes to environmental, waste and chemicals rules often have effects throughout the entire supply and distribution chain of our clients and require responses from them at many levels, our environmental lawyers work closely with our other practices, including, in particular, our EU Energy and Climate Change, EU Life Sciences, EU Food, Nutrition and Cosmetics, Corporate and Transactional, Intellectual Property, and Antitrust and Competition practices. For more information concerning our global Environmental practice, see here.
Recently, our EU environmental, waste and chemicals lawyers have:
- Established, advised and represented German food and beverage producers and German retailers in their ground-breaking and successful effort to create a German nationwide deposit system for the collection of approximately 16 billion one-way packages per year.
- Advised on a legal strategy to eliminate a restriction on a bromine-based flame retardant, coordinating contacts with the European Commission’s Legal Service and a number of other Directorates.
- Represented a plastic materials producer before the Kassel Administrative Court of Appeals in litigation against Germany concerning the compatibility of departure routes from Frankfurt airport across the client's chemicals plant with the EU Directive on the Control of Major Accident Hazards.
- Advised a leading seed producer on various EU and German regulatory issues relating to GMOs and represented the company in litigation in Germany relating to allegedly dangerous GMO maize and relating to information claims brought by an NGO asking the client to disclose certain confidential data submitted in a GMO authorization procedure.
- Represented a client in a complaint to the European Commission concerning unfairly advantageous taxation by the Swedish State of a special formulation of low-sulphur diesel that was inconsistent with the environmentally-equivalent European standard for low-sulphur diesel.
- Advised a South American minerals and fertilizers company on legislative proposals at EU and German levels to restrict the marketing of potassium nitrate.
- Advised a Member State Environmental Ministry on the criteria to be imposed on the increased use of biofuels in order to combat climate change.
- Structured and established a nationwide system for financial guarantees concerning the collection of electronic devices under the WEEE Directive for the German Federal Association of Electronic Consumer Products.
- Assisted the European Commission in a number of cases related to environmental permits and environmental impact assessments.
- Represented a chemical industry trade association in on-going proceedings before the European Court of First Instance concerning the compatibility of current biocides legislation with EU law.
- Advised a worldwide leader in the design, manufacture and sale of comprehensive systems and components used in oil and gas drilling on the implications, both from an EU and a WTO perspective, of compliance with the REACH and RoHS Directives.
- Represented a biocides producer in negotiations with a competitor on the sharing of data in order to avoid duplicate testing as well as advising generally on European and German regulation of biocidal products.