EFCTC: the European Commission and Member States are asked to prioritize action on tightening controls of imports

The statement from CEFIC, Covestro, Euratex, Eurometaux, Henkel and Solvay emphasises that enforcement (QUI) is crucial for the competitiveness of EU businesses and that no product (article, substance, or mixture) should enter the market if it does not comply with EU rules. It notes that this is a matter of consumer safety as many of these products are purchased online by individuals. The European Commission and Member States are asked to prioritize action on tightening controls of imports of both chemicals and goods, including online marketplaces, as well as ensuring that new restrictions are 100% enforceable and improving coordination and sharing of data between regulators, the private sector, and civil society.

The EFCTC Action Line is cited as an example of industry sectors setting up helplines to facilitate the reporting of non-compliant articles and passing this information on to competent authorities.

Illegal trade in hydrofluorocarbons (HFCs) is threatening legitimate small businesses, financing organised crime, and ultimately the climate. In 2020 and 2021, the EFCTC Action Line received 156 anonymous reports of suspicious behaviour, leading directly to criminal investigations. EFCTC’s Action Line (https://efctc.integrityline.org/) is available in 14 languages and has been successful in fighting illegal trade.

Of the 156 Action Line reports of possible illegal HFC activities received from across Europe in 2020, 30% originated from Italy, while, in 2021, 15% originated from the UK. The reports were analysed by the investigation agency contracted by EFCTC, Kroll. In 2020 and 2021, Kroll prepared 125 evidence packs that have been passed on to EU enforcement authorities and the European Anti-fraud Office, OLAF.

This evidence has helped in some of the 20 seizures of illegal HFCs that have taken place in Europe. The biggest seizure was in Romania in 2020, with a shipment coming from Turkey, in which customs officials found more than 7,000 cylinders in several trucks.

In addition, an EU joint action between Europol, OLAF and 16 Member States within the framework of EMPACT that took place between 20 and 25 September 2021, involved 16 countries and led to:

  • 1,682  inspections;
  • 706 administrative infringements detected;
  • 28 criminal infringements detected;
  • 7 arrests;
  • Seizures of 2 105 cylinders or the equivalent of 142 288 tonnes of CO2 with an estimated value of more than € 10 million.