Two are the systems that rule the imports of refrigerants to Europe. One is the single window environment, which is not in operation, yet, and the other is REACH.
EU Single Window system for Customs
EU “single window system for customs ” was proposed by the European Commission on October 28th 2020, with the aim of facilitating the exchange of electronic information presented by professionals among the various authorities involved in the customs clearance of goods. The single environment system intends to strengthen the cooperation and the coordination among the various authorities and to support the automated assessment of non-customs formalities for the goods entering or leaving the EU. It is conceived as a digital solution for a faster and more efficient sharing of electronic data. Operators will have to send this information only once. Once completely activated, the single door system will allow also enterprises to fulfil frontier formalities in a single portal in a determinate member State. Therefore, Customs authorities, and of other kind, will have the possibility of automatically assessing that the goods at stake are in conformity with EU requisites and that the necessary formalities have been fulfilled.
Concerning fluorinated gases, we refer to the “EU – CERTEX single window environment for Customs” (EU CSW-CERTEX), it will support the data exchange among Member States’ customs systems and the portal of fluorinated gases, the system used by the Commission to transpose the EU’s legislation on greenhouse-effect fluorinated gases. Such interconnection will allow the automated control of all customs declarations for the shipments of fluorinated gases, no matter whether they are loose or contained in appliances (ex.: refrigerators). Entering the F-gas Portal through EU CSW-CERTEX, Member States’ customs systems will automatically verify whether the importer has satisfied F-gas registration requisites. Moreover, EU CSW-CERTEX will support the bidirectional information exchange: customs systems will be able not only to use the available data on the F-gas portal, but also to transmit data about the consignments declared to the F-gas portal. This will facilitate the traceability in the EU ambit and a better coordinated control of the imported quantities of fluorinated gases compared to the system of shares defined in the legislation on fluorinated gases. Furthermore, such controls will be carried out instantaneously, so facilitating the legitimate trade and, more in general, all involved parts’ work.
Currently (end of January 2022) the regulation proposal about the EU – CERTEX single window environment for Customs is under negotiation among co-legislators (the Council of EU and the European Parliament).
The conformity with REACH regulation
Theoretically, through the single window, it should be also possible to assess the conformity of the importers of chemical substances and, in the specific case, of refrigerants with REACH European Regulation. REACH is the acronym of the Regulation for the Registration, Evaluation, Authorization and Restriction of Chemicals and precisely the Regulation EC n° 1907/2006 provides a legal framework on the use of chemicals in the European Union, to ensure a high level of protection of human health and of environment, besides promoting the free circulation of chemical products in the EU market, strengthening their competitiveness and innovation.
REACH covers almost all products on trade: foods and non-, drugs, consumer products (clothing and footwear, jewels, electrical and electronic products, toys, furniture, makeups) and, obviously, refrigerants. All these substances must be registered in REACH databank. Concerning refrigerants, REACH asks for the registration of each component that is sold as single or as part of a blend. To be compliant with the REACH regulation, and then to be released on the European market, a substance must be registered in REACH and approved by ECHA, European Chemical Agency.
REACH for refrigerants
Distributors that stock up on refrigerant from companies that produce in the EU or import refrigerants, must not pre-register and/or register their substances, but they will have to ascertain that their suppliers have done it. All importers of refrigerant (or of refrigerant components) will have to conform to REACH. This requires the pre-registration for existing commercial refrigerants. It is worth underlining that, even if the REACH regulation is European, non-EU companies with a global supply chain are called to comply with the requisites of such regulation.
However, the ” EU – CERTEX single window environment for Customs” does not support the controls concerning REACH. Nevertheless, the Commission has carried out a study to support the integration of REACH aspects into the customs legislation/procedure. The general target of the study is providing a synthesis of the improvements that can be implemented in the short-medium term for both chemical inspectors and customs authorities, to strengthen REACH application by leveraging existing procedures and processes, or the creation of new support measures. The interconnection with the “EU – CERTEX single window environment for Customs” is in the list of possible ameliorations. This recommendation is one of the options under evaluation in the current review of REACH regulation.