The agreement between the Council and the European Parliament on revision of the Directive on waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE), hammered out on 20 December 2011 at a fourth session of interinstitutional three-way talks, added a final feather to the cap of the Polish EU Presidency before it turned over the reins to Denmark. The accord, endorsed by the Committee of Permanent Representatives (Coreper) on 21 December, still has to be approved by the European Parliament - at a second-reading vote - and the Council.

The new WEEE directive amends the basis for calculating collection rates. The current method is based on four kilogrammes per inhabitant per year. In the first four years following entry into force of the amended directive, the current method will be kept; during the following three years, collection rates will be calculated on the basis of 45% of the weight of electrical and electronic equipment placed on the market. At the end of this seven-year transitional period, member states will be free to choose one of two methods: either 65% of the weight of equipment placed on the market or 85% of the weight of waste equipment. The directive also reduces the number of categories of equipment from ten to six.

The new directive also introduces the principle of an open scope' after six years. Until now, the directive's scope has been closed', meaning that only specifically identified equipment was covered by its rules. With...

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