The year 2010 was "disappointing" for ecodesign policy, according to Edouard Toulouse from the European Environmental Citizens' Organisation for Standardisation (ECOS). Even if various draft implementing measures were refined, only three measures (on washing machines, dishwashers and non-domestic fans) made it through to final adoption. This compares to nine measures in 2009. ECOS' Toulouse adds that whilst four new energy labels were adopted, only the label for televisions is new (see Europolitics 4108). The labels for fridges, washing machines and dishwashers are just updates with "controversial" new A+, A++ and A+++ classes. Ecodesign policies are thus in "urgent" need of new dynamism.

The Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) only establishes a "framework". The Commission proposes individual product requirements that are voted upon by national experts. One clear problem is the paucity of dedicated staff for ecodesign and energy efficiency within the Commission. This is not helped by a delayed revision of the 2006 energy efficiency action plan under Energy Commissioner Gunther Oettinger. This is despite a final draft circulating in the last months of predecessor Andris Piebalgs' tenure in 2009.

A new ecodesign work plan will also have to be finalised for 2012-2014 as the current one ends in 2011. It will also need to take account of the 2009 revision of the Ecodesign Directive that extended its scope from 'energy-using' to 'energy-related' products. It now covers, for example, windows, insulation materials and even shower heads and taps. Rules cover a much wider range of products and oblige manufacturers to consider, at the design stage, the environmental impact throughout the product's life cycle.

A major problem with the Ecodesign Directive, according to ECOS, remains the "continuous" delays. Toulouse calls for improved quality of the preparatory studies, more robust deadlines, better rules for consensus building and clearer political guidance.

In all events, the year 2011 should be busier. The Commission should finally...

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