Brussels, 13 April 2005
The European Commission welcomes today’s adoption by the European Parliament of the Directive on the eco-design of energy-using products. This initiative aims at improving the environmental performance of products throughout their life-cycle by systematic integration of environmental aspects at the earliest stage of their design. EU Energy Commissioner Andris Piebalgs said that “the Directive will deliver long-lasting and increasing energy savings beneficial to consumers that will also contribute to a reinforced security of energy supply for the Community”. Vice President Verheugen added that “the Eco-design Directive will prepare EU industry to face worldwide challenges related to environmental improvement of their products”.
Coherent EU-wide rules for eco-design will ensure that disparities among national regulations do not become obstacles to intra-EU trade. The directive does not introduce directly binding requirements for specific products, but does define conditions and criteria for setting requirements regarding environmentally relevant product characteristics such as energy or water consumption, waste generation, extension of lifetime and allows them to be improved quickly and efficiently. Products that fulfil the requirements will benefit both businesses and consumers, by facilitating free movement of goods across the EU, and by enhancing product quality and environmental protection.
Once the Directive is adopted, and in the absence of valid self-regulatory initiatives by industry, the Commission may set eco-design requirements for specific energy-using products which have a significant impact on the environment coupled with a high volume of trade in the internal market and with clear potential for improvement.
What is eco-design?
Eco-design, means the integration of environmental considerations at the design phase of the product, which is the best way to improve their environmental performance. It is also a long-lasting contribution to securing energy supply and achieving sustainable development.
Businesses and consumers will benefit not only from better products and an improved environment, but also economically, because of a more rational use of resources. Easier access to an enlarged EU single market will help enhance competitiveness in the global market place, where environmental concerns are becoming increasingly important.
Preparatory studies and impact assessment conducted by Commission and involving stakeholders such as industry, environmental and consumer NGOs will identify the most cost-effective solutions for improving the overall environmental performance of products.
One example, but by far not the only one, would be washing machines. Important aspects would in this case include energy, water and detergent consumption, noise and recycling ability. The analysis will identify how to achieve a high level of environmental performance for the washing machine throughout its lifecycle, while avoiding transfer of negative impact - e.g. the use of certain materials in the detergent should not lead to an increase of energy or water consumption. Eco-design requirements will then become legally binding for all products, in this case washing machines, put on the EU market, irrespective of where they are designed and produced.