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Brussels, 13 December 2005

Energy saving : the Commission refers Portugal and Luxembourg to the Court of Justice

The Commission today decided to open infringement proceedings against Portugal and the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg for failure to comply with European legislation on the energy labelling of household refrigerators and freezers. In the case of Luxembourg, the infringement proceedings also concern the energy labelling of electrical ovens and household air-conditioners. This legislation is part of a range of measures to curb energy demand in the European Union. “At a time when rising oil prices make energy saving more necessary than ever, it is regrettable that these two Member States still have not implemented a piece of legislation which has proved invaluable to consumers", said Andris Piebalgs, Commissioner for Energy.

The purpose of these European Directives, which were adopted in 2002 and 2003, is to encourage consumers to opt for household appliances which consume less energy, which would enable consumers in Portugal and Luxembourg to spend less while at the same time helping to protect the environment. The Directives require manufacturers to specify the energy consumption of their appliances and require retailers to label them at the point of sale so as to indicate their energy efficiency class (A for the best to G for the worst).

In the case of refrigerators, the Directive should have been transposed into national legislation by 30 June 2004. Portugal and Luxembourg still have not communicated their implementing measures, despite the Commission contacting the national authorities of both countries. The Commission therefore has no choice but to refer them to the Court of Justice.

In the case of electrical ovens, the Directive should have been transposed into national legislation by 31 December 2002. Despite an initial ruling against it by the Court of Justice on 18 November 2004, the Grand Duchy of Luxembourg has still not communicated its implementing measures.

The Commission has now decided to send a reasoned opinion for failure to comply with the judgment of 2004 and, if the Directive is not transposed in the near future, the case will again be referred to the Court of Justice. In its second judgment the Court could order Luxembourg to pay a fine or penalty payment for failure to transpose the Directive.

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