EU Commission drops extensive energy label plans

The European Commission has abandoned plans to place energy labels on hair dryers, toasters and kettles. These had been placed on hold due to the UK referendum on Brexit.

This is despite research for the EC by consultancy Deloittes concluded that new eco design and labeling rules for kettles could save up to 24 per cent of current energy consumption, and would “not result in excessive costs to manufacturers or consumers”. Nearly 17 per cent of energy could be saved through increased regulation of toasters.

A full list of possible measures, announced in 2014 to be under consideration for inclusion within the Eco-Design directive between 2015 and 2017, could have been delivering energy savings equivalent to 8 million tons of oil each year. By 2030 they have the potential to cut overall carbon dioxide emissions by 10m tonnes.

Attacked constantly by Brexit campaigners for “useless meddling in people’s lives”, the combination of Ecodesign standards and energy labels is arguably the most successful of the EU’s energy efficiency policies. It is set to deliver half the European energy savings target for 2020.

Energy consumption of the average product already included is 18 per cent lower than it would have been. Overall energy savings are equivalent to around 165m tons of oil per yearmore than half the total energy consumption of Germany.

Whether any of these existing standards for electric consuming goods like vacuum cleaners and washing machines will survive Brexit remains to be seen. For years they have been heavily criticised by the UK billionaire Sir James Dyson, many of whose eponymously-branded products have fared relatively poorly for energy performance under EU-tests. One of the few industrialists to back Brexit, Dyson is arguing that the UK should be completely out of the EU single market, under which EcoDesign operates.

The Ecodesign directive has been consistently supported by CECED, the European appliance manufacturers group. Should Britain ditch Ecodesign, some manufacturers may not be entirely disappointed. There would at least be one country where they can flog below-standard, out-of-date appliances that are otherwise barred from sale on the European continent.

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