- What has the Commission adopted? When will consumers see them in shops? What do the new labels look like?
The Commission has today adopted the final format and visual identity of new energy efficiency labels for 6 product groups:
- 5 product groups of household appliances with "rescaled" labels:
2) washing machines and washer-driers;
3) refrigerators, including wine storage fridges;
5) electronic displays, including televisions monitors and digital signage displays.
- A new labelling product group for refrigerating appliances with a direct sales function (also known as “commercial fridges”) used in shops and vending machines.
These new labels will be visible for European consumers in physical stores and on-line as of March 1st 2021. A specific EU-wide information campaign aimed at EU citizens will be launched in 2021.
A new element in these labels is a QR code with which consumers will be able to get additional, official (non-commercial) information by scanning the code with a common smartphone. This data is being inserted by manufacturers into the EPREL EU database which will become available to any European citizen in the next few months. The private sector and different NGOs are also in the process of coming up with apps that will further assist in the purchase choice (e.g., by helping to calculate the return costs and compare different products).
Depending on the product, the energy labels will display not only electricity consumption, but also other energy and non-energy information, with intuitive pictograms, to compare products and perform a better informed purchase choice: information about water used per washing cycle, storing capacity, noise emitted, etc.
Washing machines and washer-driers
- Why the move towards a single 'A to G' energy label?
Since 1995, the EU energy label has proven to be a success: 85% of European consumers recognise and use it when purchasing. It has also driven innovative industry developments and competition, with new products placed on the market progressively moving up in energy classes. Although initially most of the models were in the lowest classes (i.e. E, F, G), new models deserved higher until the situation where today most are now in the top classes (A+++, A++, A+) and no product is now in the lowest classes (in some cases, even A). However, such a positive result now makes it difficult for consumers to distinguish the best performing products: they might think that in buying an A+ class product they are buying one of the most efficient on the market, while in fact they are sometimes buying an average product or even one of the least efficient ones.
In order to make it easier for consumers to understand and compare products, the EU has decided to have in future only 'A to G' energy labels. The EU adopted in 2017 a revised energy labelling system consisting of:
- A return to the well-known and effective energy labelling scale 'A to G' for energy efficient products, including a process for rescaling the existing labels.
- A digital database for new energy efficient products, so that all new products placed on the EU market are registered on an online database, allowing greater transparency and easier market surveillance by national authorities.
This will improve understanding and coherence, thus facilitating consumers to correctly identify the most efficient products.
- Why a database for new products?
It was estimated that 10-25% of products on the market do not fully comply with energy efficiency labelling regulations and that around 10% of potential energy savings are lost due to non-compliance. This is at least partly due to difficult enforcement by national market surveillance authorities because of lengthy controls.
To make the compliance control activity more efficient and effective, a product registration database has been created (EPREL), where manufacturers and importers have to register their products, including all detailed technical documentation necessary for compliance control activity. This makes the key information centrally available, thus streamlining the market control activity.
The database will also make the label and key product information available to consumers and dealers and will facilitate the digitalisation of the energy label.
- What are the benefits of the Energy Labelling and Ecodesign Packages?
Internal Commission estimations value the total annual final energy savings of these new labels by 2030 at 38 TWh/year, equivalent to the annual electricity consumption of Hungary. The Energy Labelling Package constitutes an important contribution to the EU's energy and climate targets.
Early July 2019, the Commission plans to adopt a set of 11 ecodesign regulations (the Ecodesign Package), covering the 6 product groups with the new labels and 5 additional product groups (for which no label is foreseen). Ecodesign regulation tackle aspects complementary to the energy labelling, by setting minimal requirements on aspects such as energy use in standby, reparability, availability of spare parts or facilitating dismantling and recycling once the product will be at its end of life, thus supporting the implementation of the circular economy. Altogether, this new set of measures is expected to bring additional annual energy savings by 2030 at the level of 94 TWh per year, more than the annual electricity consumption of Belgium and Luxembourg.
- What about reparability?
The Ecodesign working plan 2016 - 2019 highlights the contribution of ecodesign to the circular economy agenda: when preparing or revising implementing measures, the Commission now looks more systematically at resource efficiency aspects such as durability, reparability and upgradability, recyclability and the content in recycled materials.
This has been applied to the product groups of this package but in the Ecodesign "sister" Regulations. New requirements on the reparability and recyclability of appliances have been introduced in the ecodesign measures: availability of spare parts, easy replace ability and access to repair and maintenance information for professional repairers have been introduced for refrigerating appliances, household dishwashers, household washing machines and household washer-dryers, electronic displays and refrigerating appliances with a direct sales function.
These are not included in the energy labelling regulations adopted in this package but they will be in the ecodesign regulations on the same products, early July 2019. They are expected to be published in Eur-Lex in September 2019.
- Are other non–EU countries adopting our labels?
A review concluded in 2014 on a number of countries in the world on existing Minimum Energy Performance Standards (MEPS) and energy label programs found already at that time that 59 non EU countries had adopted energy labelling for energy using equipment (see picture below).
An analogous review was simultaneously performed by the Department of Industry of Australia also highlighting the impressive number of third countries mimicking the EU label.
The EU energy label has become an international symbol of energy efficiency whose impact has extended well beyond the EU's boundaries and the appliance sector where it originated. In the EU itself, the label motif of coloured stacked arrows ranging from A (green) to G (red) has been used in non EU countries to label efficiency of buildings, tyres and cars and as to other types of consumer or commercial sector equipment. Elements of the same motif are found in energy labels adopted around the world, be it as direct or near direct copies (most of the countries in central and south America, in Africa, many countries in the Middle East, Russia and other former Soviet states), slightly amended versions (China, Hong Kong, Iran, Tunisia) or versions that copy the colour coding only (Korea, Chinese Taipei). Some example are listed below.
- What is the legislative framework in place on energy efficient products?
Energy efficient products are currently ruled by two framework acts: a Directive and a Regulation:
- The Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) - the tool for making products more energy efficient
- The Energy Labelling Regulation (EU) 2017/1369) - the tool through which the consumer can recognise the best performing products
The individual product measures adopted under these acts allow consumers to buy the most energy efficient products, and ensure a level playing field for European companies.
Currently (not taking into account the new product groups of the Energy labelling Package and future Ecodesign package to be adopted in July 2019) the following energy efficient products are available on the market:
- 14 product groups covered by the energy efficiency and labelling rules: dishwashers, washing machines, tumble driers, refrigerators, lamps, televisions, air conditioners, domestic cooking appliances, heaters, water heaters, residential ventilation units, professional refrigeration, local space heaters and solid fuel boilers.
- 9 product groups covered by efficiency requirements (and not by labelling): simple set-top boxes, external power supplies, electric motors, circulators, industrial fans, water pumps, computers & servers, power transformers and air heating products.
- 2 horizontal measures covering the following: standby/off mode electric power consumption of electric and electronic products, standby power consumption of networked devices.
- How are decisions taken for energy efficient products?
In the EU, all energy efficiency measures are developed through a rigorous and fully transparent process, with the close involvement of stakeholders and Member States at all stages. This includes:
- An in-depth "preparatory study" with the involvement of stakeholders that explores the technical, economic, environmental and social aspects of a product group.
- An extensive stakeholder consultation (including industry, consumer organisations, environmental NGOs, Member States representatives, etc.) through the so-called 'Consultation Forum'.
- An assessment of the impacts on the environment, industry and consumers, followed by expert discussions and a vote in a committee with Member State representatives.
- Final scrutiny by the European Parliament and Council who may reject the measure (this has so far not happened, showing strong political support for these measures).
- What's next?
Following today's adoption by the Commission of the Delegated Acts that describe the new labels, the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers have, during a two-month period, a right to express an objection, after which, if none are received, the texts will be published in the Official Journal of the European Union. The new labels will be launched in stores and online throughout Europe as of March 1st 2021. A specific EU-wide information campaign aimed at EU citizens will be launched in 2021.
In addition, early July 2019, the Commission plans to adopt a set of 11 ecodesign regulations, covering the 6 product groups with rescaled labels and new labels (dishwashers; washing machines and washer-driers; refrigerators; lamps; electronic displays and commercial fridges) and an additional 5 product groups for which no label is foreseen (electric motors; external power supplies; power transformers; servers and data storage products and welding equipment).
Delegated acts adopted today by the Commission:
 See ‘Ecodesign Working Plan 2016-2019' (COM(2016) 773)