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Tag ‘Regulations’

Getting into a jam, again, as MPs debate UK plans to change sugar content rules

Friday, November 1st, 2013
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If you believed some press this week, Brussels bureaucrats have been busy destroying the great British breakfast by cutting the minimum sugar content in jam from 60% to 50%….. “EU threatens future of British jam”, “British jam is toast – EU sugar rule row”, “EU rules will ruin jam with our cream tea”.

Yet according to some newspapers at the end of March…. EU red tape had allegedly been strangling plucky British jam producers by… NOT allowing them to cut the sugar content in jam from 60% to 50%.

So were they right seven months ago, or are they right now?

Well, neither.

In fact EU law – not handed down from Brussels but agreed by the UK government with other Member States – always gave the UK flexibility to cut the minimum sugar content in jam to 50%.

Seven months ago, the government had not yet chosen to use that flexibility. Now, after small producers made a strong case, it has chosen to use it.

We published this earlier blog on 25 March after extensive media coverage blaming EU rules for the plight of British jam producer Clippy McKenna who couldn’t sell her produce as jam because it didn’t meet the 60% sugar content minimum.

We explained that the same EU rules allowed Member States exemptions to apply a lower sugar content threshold and that some countries had taken advantage of this long ago.

The UK authorities were about to launch a consultation on amending the national rules here, too.

This consultation has now taken place and the debate this week in the House of Commons which sparked the latest interest in jam making concerned the amendment to the rules put forward by Defra.

The MP who was referred to as blaming the EU for the situation has made clear that she was not doing so. The transcript of her remarks confirms that. Defra has also been perfectly clear about the situation.

So the whole gloopy jam of confusion was home made by the media.

It was not “new regulations from Brussels”, or “the UK falling into line with an EU directive which says jam must be at least 50 per cent sugar”, as some reported.

It is one thing for the EU to be accused of “ridiculous EU jam laws” but to be in the dock a few months later for “threatening the future of British jam” – because the UK government has decided to change the very same “jam laws” the media had previously so strongly objected to – is pretty good going.

Needless to say, on both occasions, facts were spread thin.

It is encouraging that the Sun, the Express and the Mirror have agreed to correct their stories – but that comes too late to prevent a lot of people getting the wrong end of the stick.

Jam is not at the top of the political agenda.

But the rush to condemn the EU for taking a position and then for not taking that very same position – over a situation which the UK government could change anyway – is perhaps indicative of just how skewed much UK media coverage of anything pertaining to the EU has become.

Eco-labels for loos: helping consumers to stop water – and their hard-earned cash – going down the toilet

Wednesday, October 30th, 2013
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Rating: 4.4/5 (20 votes cast)

The European Commission is preparing to propose an eco-label for toilets and urinals, based on the amount of water that they use to flush. This will be a voluntary thing. It is not “regulating toilets”, as some claimed.

Predictably, any news story involving the juxtaposition of the EU and toilets was an opportunity for certain newspapers to trot out some puns. As ever, the Sun came up with some decent ones – “loo couldn’t make it up”, “bog standard” and more. The Express joined in with “loo rules are panned”. The Telegraph characteristically had a more sober piece talking about the “economical flushing of lavatories”.

No problem having a bit of fun with that – this story was always going to pull the media’s chain, flush out some eurosceptic rhetoric and so on ad infinitum.

But the serious accusation that this is somehow “flushing away taxpayers’ cash” on a trivial issue is out of order.

This is all about helping consumers –largely the same people as taxpayers – to stop flushing away the massive amounts of cash that are going down their toilets right now and have been for many years.

Not to mention saving huge amounts of water, a crucial and scarce resource – sometimes even in the UK, where as recently as last year there was a drought that led to compulsory water saving measures.

There is nothing “trivial” about 30% of total household water consumption in the UK. That is the proportion that flushing toilets accounts for. Much of this water use is unnecessary.

So an eco-label can help buyers choose loos that will save water and money.

Different labelling measures already exist for things like washing machines and dishwashers and it is perfectly logical to take steps to help people buy more efficient toilets.

In a single market where products are being sold across borders, this is best done at EU level.
Even just the direct and relatively short-term savings are potentially huge.

A study (full report here, zip file) overseen by the Commission’s Joint Research Centre estimates that even with only 10% market penetration for eco-label toilets, the cumulative savings for households alone across the EU would exceed £330 million (EUR 388.5 million). With 20% market penetration, that figure would roughly double. Pro-rata that would mean roughly £70 million in the UK, with at least as much again saved by non-household users.

As a comparison, the cost of the study which underpinned drawing up these measures was under £80 000.

Calculations of the potential direct and indirect savings over a longer period are by definition very rough. The speed and extent of take up of the eco-label by both manufacturers and consumers – and the knock-on effect of pressure on all manufacturers to reduce water consumption, as well as a whole series of other factors – are difficult to predict.

But overall potential savings from more efficient toilets and urinals EU wide, even using a very conservative 20% figure for the amount of water that could be saved, amount to more than 1.3 billion m³/year of water in domestic buildings – or 6,600 litres per average household – and 1.8 billion m³ in non-domestic buildings.

That total of 3.1 billion m³ would mean a value of around £ 10 billion/EUR 11.5 billion across the EU, assuming an average overall water price – including all sewage and standing charges and other fees – of EUR 3.7 per m³.

Even using a lower and very conservative £1.80/ m³ figure based on current UK household prices for metred water – including sewage charges but not including standing charges, etc – and assuming pro-rata savings in the UK, that would mean £276 million for UK households and over £300 billion for non-household use.

In fact, the potential for savings from more efficient flushing in the UK may be even greater, given the relatively high proportion of UK water use accounted for by flushing, though there are also other factors involved.

These figures for how much water and money could be saved by more efficient loos are very rough. But what is certain is that the amounts involved are huge.

The bottom line is that while a pun is (almost) always fun, cutting the amount of water used when toilets are flushed is a serious issue that fully merits the work being done on it at EU level.

Are British businesses really being strangled by EU red tape?

Monday, October 14th, 2013
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Rating: 4.0/5 (16 votes cast)

Based on a contentious Business for Britain (BfB) report, a wide range of media reported on 14 October that there have been 3,600 new laws in three years as the EU “strangles” UK firms and that it would take 92 days to read all the regulations.

All this needs to be seen in perspective. Of course, even if it is true that it would take three months to read these regulations – which is a striking if debatable statistic – it is of limited relevance as no-one could possibly need to undertake such a task. Rules on type approval for lorries are of doubtful interest to a financial services company. Soft toy manufacturers do not need to read rules on sheep farming.

Second, the BfB report contains a series of factual errors, wrongly claiming for example that the EU is seeking to impose laws banning high heels for hairdressers, UK flags on meat packaging and olive oil on restaurant tables. These claims appear to be based on nothing more concrete than – false – reports in the Eurosceptic UK press…and in a superb example of circularity, they are today repeated in those same newspapers as if the BfB report constituted irrefutable independent research.

Third, most businesses, while no doubt wanting EU and national regulation to be as light as possible, seem to fundamentally disagree that they are being strangled by EU red tape. How else to explain surveys today by the largest manufacturing association, the EEF, and in September by the CBI demonstrating that eight or more out of ten businesses want to stay in the EU? Presumably if they really were being strangled, they would be crawling gasping for breath towards the exit…

Fourth, it is interesting to look at some examples quoted by, say, the Daily Mail as evidence of outrageous interference “handed down from Brussels” (rather than “negotiated and agreed by the UK”, as is in fact the case in the vast majority of cases).

It turns out that, unsexy as many of the rules are, they are necessary either to prevent potentially serious harm or for the single market to work or more often than not, for both of those reasons.

Yes, there do need to be rules on “anchovy fishing in the Bay of Biscay” or there would soon be no more anchovies. Rules on the labelling of spirits ensure that drinkers know what they are buying and that exporters do not have to comply with a whole series of different national rules.

It is likely that British consumers would agree that the addition of ammonium chloride- a potentially dangerous chemical if overused – as a feed additive for animals does need to be regulated. They might also want to know in clear terms how much energy water heaters use, so they can save on gas and electricity bills. Maximum residue levels for weedkillers are necessary to ensure children do not get poisoned.

There is no doubt that not all of these rules are perfect. The European Commission would be the first to agree that regulation needs to be smart and proportionate and that EU regulations do need to be regularly screened and updated and sometimes even removed. The Commission has a long record of working closely with the UK on this and always takes UK government and business input seriously.

The Commission has taken a whole series of steps recently to advance this better regulation agenda. For example, President Barroso announced earlier this month further simplification and deregulation, building on substantial progress over last few years – this was welcomed by the UK Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BiS).

President José Manuel Barroso welcomed in turn the report on 15 October from the business leaders’ group set up by BiS, saying:

“In the last five years, the European Commission has slashed the cost of administrative burdens by 32.3 billion euros (27.4 billion GBP) and scrapped 5590 legal acts. And we are determined to go further.

Common rules are essential to make the single market work properly but I also want to make sure that the EU does not meddle where it should not and member states do not add additional burdens (“gold plating”). We have already acted on a range of specific issues where we have heard businesses’ concerns. “

So without any doubt, action on better regulation is necessary and it is happening.

But the broad picture is that rather than imposing additional red tape that would not exist without the EU, single market rules replace 28 national rules with a single EU rule, thus making life a lot easier for UK businesses operating across borders and boosting the overall economy at the same time. That is why the UK government has estimated the benefits of the single market to the UK economy as at least £31 billion and up to £92 billion a year.

The bottom line is that sloganeering over “red tape” often hides a much more complex reality, as we explained in more detail in this earlier blog piece.

This entry was originally posted on 14th October 2013 and was last updated on 15th October 2013.

Looking behind headlines about the cost of “Brussels red tape”

Friday, September 27th, 2013
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The cost of EU regulation comes up almost weekly in the media, with various very large figures being quoted.

To read some reports one might think that the issue was simple: simply get rid of the regulations – or even of the EU altogether – and whatever astronomical sum has been quoted as the cost of EU law would be recovered for businesses and the taxpayer.

But that is far from the case and many reports on this issue are at best one-sided and at worst deliberately misleading.

Here are twelve points reports often do not have room to mention, or choose to ignore.

1/ The cost figures mentioned – which in many cases are highly contentious anyway – nearly always refer to estimates of the gross economic cost. In other words what it costs companies and individuals to comply with EU rules, without taking account of the benefits of those rules or the costs of not having them. Most UK businesses, while they might well have concerns about certain aspects, recognize the net economic benefits EU-wide regulation brings – see this recent CBI survey, where eight out of ten say they want the UK to remain in the EU.

2/ Some benefits are not primarily economic, but perhaps even more important. Having strict requirements at EU level to ensure that toys are safe, for example, certainly has a financial cost to producers but also saves children from injury and death.  Rules on food labelling help ensure that consumers know what they are buying and feeding to their families. Restrictions on tobacco packaging and advertising and rules on air quality of course involve compliance costs. But they prolong life expectancy and reduce illness. They also reduce public healthcare costs.

3/ The UK government has estimated that the EU single market is worth up to £92 billion in additional wealth annually to the UK. There could be no single market without EU regulation. EU single market rules either replace national rules or, under so-called “mutual recognition”, allow UK companies to trade Europe-wide while complying only with UK rules. There is certainly a gross cost to UK exporters for complying with EU rules requiring minimum standards and consumer safeguards for, say, electrical products. But complying with one set of rules represents a huge reduction in regulatory burden – and thus a big net benefit -compared to having to deal with a patchwork of different sets of national rules.

4/ Opponents of the EU sometimes claim EU regulation places additional burdens on UK companies that do not trade across borders. This presumes national regulation would be lighter, often not the case (see below). In any case, over 300,000 UK companies do trade with other countries in the European Union. Moreover, the reduction in bureaucracy and in costs resulting from being in the single market benefits all businesses and not just those who export to other EU Member States. Many UK SMEs purchase supplies from elsewhere in the EU at competitive prices or employ migrant workers, without excessive red tape. Others – especially in the services sector – benefit from increased demand in the economy that would not be there without the additional wealth generated by the single market.

5/ Some EU regulation is specifically designed to cut business costs and slash red tape. The Services Directive, for example, has eliminated hundreds of discriminatory, unjustified or disproportionate national requirements stopping services providers big and small from trading across borders. To take another example, the unitary EU patent will cut the costs of getting patent protection EU-wide by 80%.

6/ Other types of regulation do create extra costs for businesses, but do so in order to ensure fairness for consumers. For example, EU rules drastically cutting the cost of mobile phone roaming or those requiring proper compensation for airline passengers stranded by delayed or cancelled flights.

7/ Some other regulations may have a significant short-term cost, but help to avoid the risk of a far greater cost in the long-term.  For example, rules prohibiting the use of dangerous pesticides that harm bees have an economic cost if the replacement products are more expensive – but if bees do not flourish then many vital crops will not either, causing far greater economic and environmental damage that does not stop at national borders.

8/ The run-up to the financial and economic crisis is one of the best examples in history of the potential cost of insufficient regulation. Earlier laxity is being corrected in the EU and other jurisdictions. For example, tougher requirements on the level of capital banks must hold are being introduced. This means that banks’ ability to issue loans and trade in the markets is reduced, which reduces profits and has a cost to the economy. But the lack of sufficiently strict capital requirements before the financial crisis was one reason why banks could borrow more and more money, issue bad loans and speculate recklessly. A repeat would cost the economy trillions of pounds and millions of jobs, a huge multiple of the cost of implementing the stricter rules. EU financial regulation aims to stop that happening. By creating a level playing field, it avoids a “race to the bottom” where jurisdictions with weak oversight could attract  business unfairly and endanger everyone in the process.

9/ Another issue rarely reflected in estimates of the cost of EU regulation is whether, if EU rules were removed, Member States would simply introduce their own similar ones. For example, there have been many criticisms of the Working Time Directive. It is being reviewed. But if it were not there at all, that does not mean national governments would completely dispense with rules limiting working time or stipulating minimum breaks.  In most advanced industrial economies, there are such rules and voters might not tolerate their absence. A European framework of social and health and safety rules also means good employers in the UK cannot be undercut by less scrupulous ones elsewhere exploiting the work force and cutting corners on safety.

10/ Burdensome national rules are also sometimes blamed on the EU when they do not stem from EU law at all. In writing EU law into national law, Member States sometimes go much further than what has been agreed at EU level. This phenomenon is known as “gold plating”.  One UK example, on unnecessary requirements for mechanics working on HGVs to be trained to drive such vehicles, can be found here.  In the CBI survey referred to above, 46% of UK businesses saw reducing this sort of gold plating as a priority – more than 39% who cited reducing EU regulation itself as a priority.

11/ In some cases, purely national rules simply would not work. Take the case of pollution of the air or sea from an industrial plant across the Channel or North Sea from the UK.  Strict UK rules on such things would be entirely ineffective if neighbouring Member States did not also have such rules, as windborne or waterborne harmful material cannot be stopped at the ports. EU environmental regulation ensures that citizens have equal protection wherever they are in Europe and that companies cannot gain an unfair advantage by scrimping on environmental protection.  Again, having to make sometimes technically complex arrangements for disposing of waste or cutting emissions has a cost for businesses – but dealing with the consequences of laxer rules or of a patchwork of rules would have a far greater financial cost for taxpayers.

12/ Finally, EU-wide regulation brings benefits for trade with countries outside the European Union. Many other jurisdictions, including sometimes China, wholly or partially implement at home standards and rules similar to those applied in the EU – the world’s biggest market in GDP terms. They do this to make it easier for their companies to trade both domestically and worldwide without using different production lines and without facing “technical barriers” – obstacles to trade arising from a patchwork of fragmented rules in different jurisdictions. External access to the EU single market – and yes, to its body of rules covering a market of 500 million consumers – is also what encourages other large trading nations or blocs to negotiate trade agreements with the EU on terms they would not offer to individual Member States. This is evident in the current negotiations with the US.

What is Europe doing to improve regulation?

Of course, it is right that academics, think-tanks and media should scrutinise the costs of regulation and keep the pressure on the EU institutions to keep them as low as possible, consistent with proper functioning of markets – which cannot work without a legal framework – with safety and with consumer protection.

And EU regulations, just like national ones, are sometimes far from perfect. They have sometimes introduced avoidable costs. They need to be kept under constant review to ensure they have not become redundant thanks to technological change.

It is not good enough just for EU law to comprise a lower overall compliance cost on business than a patchwork of national laws. That cost should be reduced to the minimum compatible with the rules being fair and effective.

And sometimes, when rules or their absence have little or no cross-border effect or when there is no distortion of the single market from having different rules in different places, it is indeed more effective to leave regulation to the discretion of individual national, regional or local governments rather than seek agreement at EU level. That is the principle of subsidiarity. Commission President José Manuel Barroso recently reiterated its importance, saying: “The EU needs to be big on big things and smaller on smaller things”.

So the Commission has in recent years had as a top priority improving the way EU legislation is prepared.

Major consultation exercises with stakeholders and the public precede any European Commission proposal. When draft legislation is submitted to MEPs and national ministers – who collectively make the final decisions on whether EU law will be introduced or changed and in what form it will take – it is accompanied by a detailed impact assessment setting out what the costs and benefits are expected to be. Member State governments have the opportunity to scrutinise and question those impact assessments before taking a position on whether to support the proposal.

In parallel, the Commission has streamlined existing legislation and repealed nearly 6,000 legal acts since 2005. The Administrative Burden programme launched in 2007 is cutting costs to business across Europe by around €38 billion. More detail on these and other initiatives can be found here.

In 2012, the Commission initiated a Regulatory Fitness and Performance Programme (REFIT).  It will publish on 2 October 2013 a report detailing the action to be taken to cut further the costs of EU regulation. That will be based on, among other things, a survey of SMEs asking them to identify the ten EU measures they found most burdensome.

What EC President Barroso really said in the European Parliament on 11 September

Thursday, September 12th, 2013
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Rating: 5.0/5 (4 votes cast)

Reporting EC President José Manuel Barroso’s State of the Union speech to the European Parliament yesterday, the Mirror said that he had said that: “UK hostility to EU may start a war”. The Mail went with: “taking power back from EU risks return to war, says top eurocrat.”

The Sun chose the headline: “EU chief: Cam risking War”. The BBC claimed in some bulletins that Mr Barroso had suggested that “attempts to claw back powers from Brussels” could lead to war.

In fact, Mr Barroso had said in the speech, shortly after the very passage the media had seized on: “I recognize: like any human endeavour, the EU is not perfect. For example, controversies about the division of labour between the national and European levels will never be conclusively ended.”

So to suggest that his speech had said that calling for a change in the balance between European and national competencies would mean war was – to put it mildly – a highly creative interpretation.

What he actually said in the passage that some media seized on was the following:

“Next year, it will be one century after the start of the First World War. A war that tore Europe apart, from Sarajevo to the Somme. We must never take peace for granted. We need to recall that it is because of Europe that former enemies now sit around the same table and work together.

It is only because they were offered a European perspective that now even Serbia and Kosovo come to an agreement, under mediation of the EU. Last year’s Nobel Peace Prize reminded us of that historic achievement: that Europe is a project of peace. We should be more aware of it ourselves.

Sometimes I think we should not be ashamed to be proud. Not arrogant. But more proud. We should look towards the future, but with a wisdom we gained from the past.

Let me say this to all those who rejoice in Europe’s difficulties and who want to roll back our integration and go back to isolation: the pre-integrated Europe of the divisions, the war, the trenches, is not what people desire and deserve. The European continent has never in its history known such a long period of peace as since the creation of the European Community. It is our duty to preserve it and deepen it.”

In another passage, ignored by most of the UK media, the EC President was explicit that:

“Not everything needs a solution at European level. Europe must focus on where it can add most value. Where this is not the case, it should not meddle. The EU needs to be big on big things and smaller on smaller things – something we may occasionally have neglected in the past. The EU needs to show it has the capacity to set both positive and negative priorities. As all governments, we need to take extra care of the quality and quantity of our regulation knowing that, as Montesquieu said, ‘les lois inutiles affaiblissent les lois nécessaires’. [‘Useless laws weaken the necessary ones’.] But there are, honourable members, areas of major importance where Europe must have more integration,more unity. Where only a strong Europe can deliver results.”

There were indeed robust exchanges with the Leader of the European Conservative and Reform Group in the European Parliament, Martin Callanan, and with UKIP leader Nigel Farage after the speech. Both had robustly attacked the Commission and its President, as is their right.

What Mr Barroso said in response to Mr Callanan was:

 “Mr Callanan, you said, making a joke about possible competitors for the Commission election, that you are not interested in that job that you are very happy with yours. Let me tell you very frankly that I think even if you were interested you could not have a chance to be elected for President of the Commission.  And you know why? I am not saying that happily, because I think increasingly, your party and your group are looking like the UKIP and the Eurosceptic European group. And I start to have some doubts that you are going to be elected yourself in Britain, if it is not UKIP that is going to be the first force in the British elections, because when it comes to being against Europe, the people prefer, between the original and the copy, they prefer the original, that is probably why they are going to vote more for Mr Farage than for Mr Callanan.

And this I don’t say with any kind of satisfaction, because even if we have some differences, we have worked in many areas very constructively with conservatives, the British conservatives and the Conservative group. We have worked together for the internal market, for reform; we have worked together against some kind of regulation; we have worked together in many areas, including free trade.

But this is an important point, I think, because if those forces that are pro-European or even those that are not really pro-European but constructive, have the same speech, the same political attitude of the anti-Europeans, the eurosceptics, the populists, then in that case, they [the populists] will win the next elections……”

Mr Barroso went on to say the following, in a combined reaction to Green leader Rebecca Harms, who had said that the EU was not doing enough to tackle climate change, and to Mr Farage, who had said that “we may have made one of the biggest and most stupid collective mistakes in history by getting so worried about global warming.”

“Mrs Harms, when you say that Europe has done nothing or that in climate change there is zero, come on, let’s be real! Europe is leading in the world in terms of the objective for climate change. About CO2 cars, the proposals that were put forward by the Commission, if you are not satisfied with the solution now, ask the question to the Member States not to the Commission. We are keeping a very strong commitment to climate change.

Mr Farage shows that populists are sometimes obscurantists. 99% of the science, Mr Farage, believes that climate change exists as a result of human activity. 99% of scientists!

 Of course there are always people that are paid to say the opposite. But to pretend, as you pretend, that against all science, well established science, that the problem of climate change is just an invention of the Greens, or of the left, is complete nonsense.

Of course we have to find a way; of course we have to find a sensible way to fight climate change. We have to look at the same time for competitiveness in Europe, we have to make this part of our agenda for growth and I believe that the green economy brings many possibilities.

It would be a mistake just to put the case on climate change on environmental matters. That is of course decisive; it’s an existential thing for our planet, the conservation of our planet. But we have to make the case, also in terms of economy, in terms of our health, because in fact we have seen, increasingly, natural disasters that most scientists attribute to climate change. So this is important, and I think that is almost incredible that the leader of one European Parliament group says that it is an invention of some political forces [when it is], something that has been established clearly by science.

I believe in science and I believe part of the solutions for our problems is through more science, more innovation, more research, more technology, and this is the way for Europe to address these problems.”

The full State of the Union speech can be found here and the full debate here

Media reporting on vacuum cleaners – don’t get sucked in!

Friday, June 7th, 2013
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Rating: 3.6/5 (32 votes cast)

Over the past week there have been various reports about how EU energy saving regulations might affect future vacuum cleaners. We would like to put a few issues straight.

Less power does not mean less performance. The aim is to give consumers a better deal all round with vacuum cleaners that suck up more dirt, use less electricity, help keep energy bills down and are better for the environment. Inefficiently designed models will be phased out.

The new EU regulation focuses on dust pick-up efficiency as well as power. A vacuum cleaner that picks up more dust per passage over the floor only needs to be used for shorter periods and thus uses less energy.

Studies have shown that the introduction of these efficient vacuum cleaners would save 19 terawatt hours (TWh) of energy annually in the EU by 2020. As a comparison, this annual saving alone would keep the London Underground running for up to twenty years.

From September 2014 the maximum allowed input power will be 1600 Watt; from September 2017 it is 900 W. (current average on the market is about 1800 W)

Rather than focus on the energy savings and consumer benefits, the Daily Express said the regulation would create a potential health risk “because lower powered vacuum cleaners will not pick up allergy-provoking dust”. This is simply not the case. The regulation seeks to reduce dust emissions and clearly sets minimum requirements for the ability of a vacuum cleaner to pick up dust.

This will all be reflected in a new labelling system, so consumers can be clearly informed as to what they are buying.

The label will also outline the following important information:

Energy efficiency (A-G rating similar to those on washing machines and fridges)
Performance (ability to pick up dust)
Dust re-emission in the exhaust air (particularly important for dust related allergies)
Noise levels

So the regulation is not so much about banning high powered vacuum cleaners as encouraging high performance, energy efficient, dust busting technology.

The regulation on eco-design requirements is an update to take into account technological advances and derived from existing EU law agreed in 2009 by the European Parliament and by Member States.

This update is not simply based on a decision handed down by the European C0mmission – Member States can block the Commission’s proposal either through a vote of their experts or later at political level.

The procedure is as follows. Such changes to the eco-design rules require first a qualified majority (in other words a large majority of votes weighted by size of Member State) of experts in a committee of Member States. Either the European Parliament or the Member States in the Council then have several months to vote to block the procedure. That period has now elapsed, so the Commission will now formally adopt the new rules. Producers will have ample time to adapt to the new rules – see above.

EC in the UK

Check the EC Representation in the UK website

Please note that all statements in all entries were correct on the date of publication given. However, older archived posts are not systematically updated in the light of later developments, for example changes to EU law.

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