By Ivan Štefanec, President of the European Parliament Beer Club

As President of the European Parliament’s Beer Club, it is my privilege to host interesting and timely policy debates on issues that impact beer and the beer sector. This was the case on Wednesday (8 March 2023) when I welcomed the European Commission’s Director for the Circular Economy in DG Environment Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea, the Vice Chair of the European Parliament’s Intergroup on Climate Change Franc Bogovič and Cor Waringa from The Brewers of Europe to discuss the Commission’s proposal for a Packaging and Packaging Waste Regulation.

Video of 8 March 2023 EP Beer Club event

At the EP Beer Club, we can see that European brewers take their responsibility towards sustainability seriously. And it was great to hear Cor Waringa talk about the beer sector’s commitment to sustainable packaging, through reuse and recycling. As he said during the discussion, “Our strength is our diversity….there are 80 styles, 50,000 brands and 10,000 breweries in Europe,” he said. “Every brewer has a tremendous power to drive change, and to be part of the transition to sustainable society. We are leading by example in the sustainability area.”

It was also important to hear Aurel Ciobanu-Dordea explain the Commission’s proposal. I was particularly glad to hear him describe the brewing sector as a promoter and as a pioneer when it comes to recycling and reuse. “I would like to encourage the beer sector to remain champions of sustainability,” he said. Interestingly, he added that, “The beer sector has accumulated a certain experience ahead of the other sectors….So you can deal with stronger requirements more than say, the wine sector.”

It is true. Brewers across Europe have taken decisive action to make their packaging and packaging waste more sustainable through their own innovations and through their support to systems that facilitate the return by consumers of reusable and recyclable packaging. They are leaders in the green transition, something my colleague Franc Bogovič noted as well, saying, “it is important to learn from the best.” But as I said during the event, this leadership should not be punished. Rules coming from Brussels must be fair to all economic actors, in particular to ensure no discrimination amongst those drinks producers that are direct competitors.

I look forward to more discussions within the EP Beer Club and to working with the Commission, Council, brewers and other stakeholders on this and other topics impacting this important sector in Europe. We have four committees in the Parliament committed to preparing opinions on the draft proposals. I encourage all of them to be guided by four principles we discussed at the event – which should be applied to any good legislation – namely, that it should be: proportionate, well-targeted, non-discriminatory and coherent.

Let me also thank all the panellists and the 60 attendees who braved a day of inclement weather, strikes and security alerts to join us, as well as our moderator Dave Keating, for guiding the discussions at this insightful event.

>  Two-page infographic on Beer packaging shared by The Brewers of Europe at the EP Beer Club event on 8 March 2023

Photos of the event