Preparing Tunisia’s export sector for the EU Single Market for Green Products with the EU funded SwitchMed programme
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The European Commission is seeking a solution to address the inconsistent labeling situation regarding the environmental performance of products on the European market, a situation that has led to an uncertainty among consumers and producers. Under the premise of the “Single Market for Green Products Initiative”, the European Commission supports the development of a single metric for a single market to measure and make available, reliable and relevant information on the environmental footprint of products consistently, thus, ensuring a fair competition.
In order to test whether such information can be generated at a reasonable cost and effort, the EU has initiated pilot studies from various industrial sectors to evaluate what environmental benefits this framework might achieve and what impact it will have on the ability of the industry to meet these requirements. These pilots started in 2013 and are now in a final stage. In 2017/18 the experiences will be evaluated, and the EU will develop policies that could range from voluntary or obligatory labeling to even taxation (as many countries did with energy using products).
However, the emerging Product Environmental Footprint (PEF) Framework could not only affect European producers but also industries that export to the European markets. For businesses in Tunisia, the EU single market is one of the most important trading partners with huge export potential. Knowing which rules and regulations apply to the EU single market is not only essential in gaining access, but also critical in order to compete on equal terms with other competitors. Correspondingly, if the EU develops new requirements, it will be vital in providing information on how these requirements affect the abilities for Tunisian companies to export in the EU Single Market for Green products.
Recognizing the potential of the Single Market for Green Products Initiative for Tunisian producers, SwitchMed, under the lead of UNIDO, held end of April 2017, an awareness raising event and a generic training session on Life Cycle Assessment (LCA) and PEF, preparing industries in Tunisia on what might become a reality for Tunisian companies, exporting green labeled products in the EU.
Additionally, UNIDO, together with local experts, will conduct a pilot study in the olive oil production company Huilerie Loued, and the pasta manufacturer Pates Warda, both representing highly relevant sectors in the economic context of Tunisia’s export to the EU, to assess the impacts and preparedness of a future potential regulatory framework at a company level. This will concurrently prepare local expertise on the application of LCA in the framework of PEF, where the results will be shared in the final round of consultations of the PEF framework at an EU level.
The outcome of this pilot study will not only point towards the untapped potential of LCA in Tunisia but also provide an insightful analysis for both Tunisia and the EU in the future development of circular production policies.