EU Court Rules German Recycling Rules Discriminates against Non-German Bottlers
BRUSSELS, Belgium The European Union's top court ruled Tuesday that Germany has to modify its bottle recycling rules, which it said hinders drinks imports from other European countries.
The European Court of Justice said Germany's environmentally friendly deposit and return plans introduced between 1998 and 2002 unfairly protected German products from competition.
The court said the recycling rules "hinder the free movement of goods," adding that producers and distributors of drinks outside of Germany were at a disadvantage, because they could not meet the recycling rules in time, and so could not sell their products in the German market.
The rules have angered non-German mineral water companies, which the EU head office argued were unable to compete because of the deposit and return obligations in Germany.
The court agreed, saying the system "causes every producer and distributor ... to incur, apart from making and labeling costs, additional costs connected with organization of the taking back of packaging."
The EU head office took Germany to court in December 2001, demanding Berlin change the recycling rules. The European Commission said the rules block trade by raising expenses for producers outside the country.
The court demanded Germany introduce a system that allows drinks makers, including beer and soft drinks producers, to do business fairly across Europe.
It told Germany to give drinks makers a longer period to prepare their businesses for complying with the new system, and to make sure consumers can recover their deposits in a far wider variety of drop-off points.
Source: Associated Press