Forever Chemicals In Medical Devices

Challenge

West Pharmaceutical Services
West Pharmaceutical Services
Alber & Geiger assisted West Pharmaceutical, a US corporation and world market leader in medical devices, paving the way for PFAS ban exemptions for their products. The intention was to prevent disruptions in the supply of certain medical devices, where the medicinal products are inseparably connected with the devices, like it is the case with the diabetes pen or with vaccines prefilled in containers and syringes.

Strategy

Our team engaged in a multifaceted approach to safeguard the interests of the medicinal and medical devices. We provided strategic input during the consultation period with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), highlighting the unique needs and safety considerations of specific medical devices. This was followed by an extensive outreach to stakeholders within the European Parliament, the European Commission, and the EU member states. Our efforts focused on educating decision-makers about the indispensable role of PFAS in medicinal products and medical devices and the potential supply chain risks posed by a PFAS ban.

Results

Our advocacy efforts led to a pivotal development in the regulatory landscape on medical devices. Our targeted approach opened the door to potential derogations of several years for specific medical applications where there is substantial evidence that viable alternatives to PFAS do not exist. This ensures that essential medical devices remain available and effective, safeguarding patient care and industry stability.

 

Free Trade Agreement Between India And The EU

Challenge

India
India
Alber & Geiger was asked to advise and support the Government of India amid concerns coming from Members of the European Parliament in relation to trade, human rights and privacy. Such activity in the European Parliament, coming in the form of parliamentary questions and motions for resolutions risked turning into conditionality clauses in the EU-India bilateral relations.

Strategy

ag-wins-map-financial-crisisOur team embarked on a comprehensive campaign with EU lawmakers addressed their concerns. We turned the focus on India’s growing economic, technological and geopolitical role and emphasized the untapped potential for bilateral relations. By providing factual evidence and a clearer understanding over the expressed concerns, we were able to switch the focus towards the bilateral opportunities and fostering trade relations via a free trade agreement.

Results

With our diplomatic and advocacy experience we assisted the Government of India navigate the political landscape in the European Parliament. Thanks to our strategy and government affairs support, EU lawmakers now support the EU-India free trade deal.

Tall Oil In The Tank

Challenge

Alber & Geiger was approached by a US chemical company from South Carolina regarding the EU Renewable Energy Directive. The client was increasingly concerned about the diversion of tall oil away from the use in the chemicals sector towards energy production in transport. Tall oil being a pine tree residue from the paper mills is used in both these sectors. The Renewable Energy Directive provided special quotas and incentives for the use of tall oil as a feedstock in transportation fuels leading to price increases and creating distortions in the chemical sector, where tall oil was being used as a replacement for crude oil.

Strategy

Alber & Geiger pushed for amendments that requested to change the Renewable Energy Directive in the sense that it would remove tall oil from the positive list that was benefiting from the EU incentives. We worked with the EU Institutions to also apply the so called cascading use principle to tall oil, meaning that any recycled substance should be used as a raw material rather than for fuel purposes. We further engaged with key lawmakers and select Member States to garner support during the legislative process.

Results

We brought together other industry players and leading associations to form a strong coalition of like-minded players to show that the issue was beyond one single company. Through our engagement we made sure that the cascading use principle is now in the language of the Renewable Energy Directive.

E-Fuels In Europe

Challenge

A California hydrogen fuels company hired Alber & Geiger to shape the EU Renewable Energy Directive and respective EU legislation on road transport, maritime and aviation. The primary aim of our advocacy was to ensure that the entire regulatory and legal framework in the EU provides the necessary financial, market and regulatory support to enable concrete investments in hydrogen based e-fuels factories and the eventual roll out of e-fuels in the coming years in the EU.

Strategy

The lobbying focus was on the greenhouse gas savings provided by hydrogen e-fuels when used as a drop in alternative to standard fuels, and the latter’s contribution to meet the Green Deal goals. Similarly, our team engaged with lawmakers and EU officials to corral backing for specific e-fuels targets in maritime transport and high quotas for e-fuels in aviation. We put the spotlight on the important contribution of e-fuels in sectors that are hard to decarbonize, shaping the criteria to determine renewable hydrogen in the EU.

Results

We were able to garner support for higher e-fuels quotas and shepherd the uptake of e-fuels in key modes of transportation. Alber & Geiger’s effort led to a plenary vote in the European Parliament that supported higher targets for e-fuels. In a politically arena with various alternative fuels competing for incentives, our team was able to obtain clear and strong support for e-fuels, turning Europe into one of the most attractive and important markets for that.

Currency Conversion Fees In Credit Cards

Challenge

Dynamic currency conversion (DCC) is a currency exchange service that enables customers to pay in their home currency or in local currency according to their choice. It is offered at ATMs and credit card transactions in shops. The service providers had raised concerns over the card scheme behavior of credit card companies aimed at limiting competition in currency conversion services across several jurisdictions, including in the European Union. They contacted Alber & Geiger to provide political support with the European Commission’s Directorate General for Competition on their repeated complaints over card schemes’ excessive rules, fees and compliance regimes. Moreover, the companies relied on Alber & Geiger to help them identify political avenues to raise their concerns in the European Union, via regulatory and legislative paths, in parallel to their competition channel.

Strategy

From the outset, we created a strategy that focused on three works streams: political support into the complaint with DG Comp, advocacy with lawmakers and officials to raise awareness of DCC and highlight concerns against credit card schemes, and finally, to build support with merchant, consumer and other sectorial associations that are affected by currency exchange services. 

Results

Our team was able to raise awareness of the situation on currency exchange services, informing officials and politicians on the differences between the model offered by the credit cards, and that offered by the DCC providers, putting the emphasis on the DCC currency exchange service that brings more transparency and consumer choice. Simultaneously, through regular exchanges with lawmakers we have laid the foundation for support for our amendments on the ongoing EU legislation on the cross border payment regulation and the payment service directive. Finally, we managed to shift alliances in support of the issues highlighted by DCC providers.     

Bananas And EU Pesticides

Challenge

The EU had banned the pesticide Mancozeb as part of its Green Deal strategy. The ban on Mancozeb triggered a Maximum Residue Level (MRLs) review of the EU for imported bananas treated with Mancozeb, which could negatively affect the banana trade into the European Union. It was against this background that the leading banana companies including Dole, Delmonte and Chiquita reached out to Alber & Geiger, to provide regulatory and political support around MRLs in bananas.

Strategy

ag-wins-map-chinaWe were able – in a short period of time – to devise a strategy that put the spotlight on the necessity of Mancozeb and lack of efficient alternatives. We also helped put together evidence on the safety of the continued use of Mancozeb in bananas owing to the characteristics of bananas, and no associated dietary and health risks. Finally, our team brought to the attention of decision-makers trade and development arguments that emphasized further the importance of a balanced decision.

Results

The Rapporteur Member State Greece carried out an assessment of Mancozeb in bananas and proposed a Maximum Residue Level in line with the international standard under CODEX-CXL. In addition, we were able to garner support for our arguments and the preservation of the international standard for the use of Mancozeb in bananas with relevant lawmakers in the European Parliament, and key decision makers in the member states and European Commission departments.

The Xiaomi Ban

Challenge

Xiaomi Inc.
Xiaomi Inc.
Alber & Geiger was engaged by Xiaomi, the best-selling phone manufacturer in the EU to fend off against initiatives in the member states’ that could spill-over into the European Union. Our team was called in to provide strategic support, monitoring and analysis of ongoing EU policy initiatives and member states cybersecurity reports that had the potential to affect Xiaomi’s business in Europe.

Strategy

ag-wins-map-china Alber & Geiger engaged on a plethora of issues, including EU-China relations, cybersecurity, right to repair, cyber resilience act, corporate sustainable due diligence, sanctions as well as the digital markets act, by providing high-end analysis and advise on content and engagement with the European Institutions, including the European Parliament and the European Commission. We also helped compile language to assist Xiaomi in addressing European Parliament concerns on the need to protect consumers from Chinese mobile phones by highlighting Xiaomi adherence to EU GDPR standards and norms.

Results

We were able to learn firsthand of ongoing EU initiatives in the Commission or in the European Parliament affecting Xiaomi, and quick to provide analysis and message to advocate vis-à-vis the institutions. Alber & Geiger addressed the concerns raised in reports, letters and policy initiatives. This approach enabled us to protect the image of Xiaomi, and its position in the European market.

Defending Teflon

Challenge

Chemours
Chemours
The patent holder of Teflon™, US Fortune 500 chemical company Chemours, approached Alber & Geiger seeking regulatory and advocacy support over a European Union proposal that would ban all per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). Those PFAS are chemicals that came under regulatory fire as being the so called “forever chemicals”, which persist in the environment. The political turbulences in the EU started in the Netherlands, continued in Italy and Germany then, until they became an EU wide regulatory initiative in Brussels.

Strategy

On the one hand we were confronted with planned PFAS bans in The Hague, Rome and Berlin which we had to politically manage with the national governments. On the other hand we saw a regulatory initiative develop in Brussels under the EU chemicals strategy. We embarked on a defense for the Chemours specific PFAS named GenX and Teflon™, based on the planned PFAS restrictions. Considering the impact of the restrictions to the supply chains of various Member States, Alber & Geiger entered into discussions with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA), the European Commission, the European Parliament, the EU Permanent Representations and the Member States’ Ministries of Industry and Environment.

Results

We managed to stop the national PFAS bans in The Hague, Berlin and Rome. And we aligned them with the EU initiative. There, we made EU regulators and lawmakers understand that they needed to differentiate between different PFAS, such as PFAS of high or low concern, as a liquid, gas or solid material.

The Greenhouse Gas Ban

Challenge

Chemours
Chemours
Alber & Geiger assisted a US Fortune 500 chemical company to tackle the issue of illegal trade of refrigerants. For years, illegal trade of old generation refrigerants in Europe, prevented and delayed the introduction of high-end, climate friendly solutions. In parallel, the ongoing revision of the EU F-Gas Regulation was not delivering the expected results on phasing down the use of HFCs, as stricter penalties and measures to control illegal trade could only be enforced on a Member State level.

Strategy

Our team therefore embarked on a legislative initiative in Germany, which would offer a national solution that would inspired other Member States to use the German law as a blueprint. Alber & Geiger enforced a strategy which appealed to all levels of the German political institutions and administration. We supported the proposal on the level of the federal government, while in parallel gathering support at various political levels. Moving forward successfully, we managed to get our arguments through to stakeholders also in the European Union.

Results

On a first stage, Alber & Geiger supported a draft legislation which was in favor of our client’s expectations. On a second stage, our team also saw through the clearance of the German legislation from the EU Commission and inspire other Member States follow the German path. Finally, we locked the support from the German upper house and rapporteurs of the lower house, succeeding in the eventual speedy adoption of the legislation, which will be hopefully used as a blueprint solution in the EU.

The Panama Papers

Challenge

Republic of Panama
Republic of Panama
Alber & Geiger represented Panama in the aftermath of the “Panama papers” with regard to the new EU anti money laundering blacklist. As a result of the “Panama papers” the EU decided for the first time to set up its own blacklist. Before that, the EU would copy the international Financial Action Task Force (FATF) lists.

In Summer 2019, Panama was added to the grey list of FATF, at a time when the country was finalizing its reforms. Alber & Geiger was called to halt the result in FATF from spilling over in the EU and to weigh in the new EU methodology and the procedural gaps in the EU listing. Panama was caught in a timing paradox: Its automatic EU listing would be followed by a potential delisting from FATF, without clear assurances that the latter would be reflected in an EU delisting.

Strategy

Our goal was straightforward: raise awareness for Panama’s advances in combating money laundering and through that ensure that the EU will not unjustly list Panama as a high risk third country. Our message had to circle in the three key EU institutions. The architect of the procedure and list of high risk third countries, the European Commission, and the gatekeepers of the procedure, the European Parliament and the Member States. Our message was tailor made for each front, appealing the several working levels and directorates of the Commission, the Committees of the European Parliament and different levels of organization in the Member States. Alber & Geiger grasped the opportunity of the drafting of the new methodology for the EU listing of high risk third countries, to engage with the different Commission directorates involved in the process and apply Panama’s position. In the Parliament, we focused on rewarding a third country such as Panama, which is determined to turn a bad precedent into a success story and we stressed upon the bilateral relationships of Panama towards the Member States.

Results

The EU did not implement its list and methodology as planned. Panama being listed by the EU as a high risk third country within the EU anti money laundering framework now is based on an automatic listing/delisting process with FATF. Our lobbying efforts enhanced the visibility and acknowledgement of Panama’s efforts in modernizing its anti-money laundering regime and changed the original EU methodology draft according to the demands of Panama.