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The developing European regulatory framework for the battery industry

In August 2023, the European Battery Regulation entered into force, replacing the old directive from 2006. Why now? Of course, among the drivers is the exponential growth of electric vehicles (EVs), which in 2022 accounted for over 1.3 million vehicles sold in the European Union.

Secondly, one might say that the EU needed to level the playing field with the United States after the adoption of the Inflation Reduction Act (IRA) which, in just over a year has been followed by more than 110 billion US dollars in clean energy investments, with just over 70 billion US dollars earmarked for the US battery supply chain, particularly downstream cell projects (so-called gigafactories).

Finally, due to the advancement of technologies, the increased usage of different types of batteries from the consumers’ side and the growing competition, the old directive had become obsolete and needed to be replaced to be more in line with the times.

Taking into account the whole battery value chain

The old directive didn’t differentiate the types of batteries, both in terms of composition and end-use. Now, with the overall objective of minimising the harmful effects of batteries on the environment, the new regulation will cover the entire lithium battery life cycle. It is the first time that the whole process, from extraction of the raw material to production, design, labelling, traceability, collection, recycling and reuse is taken into consideration.

“As a regulation, it will be implemented directly into the legislation of every Member State and this will help to promote a level playing field among them,” comments Pau Sanchis, Senior Policy Manager at EUROBAT, the Association of European Automotive and Industrial Battery Manufacturers. “One of its main advantages is that it covers the entire life cycle of a battery, from mining to recycling. It is a product-specific legislation.”

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