OPP Meeting Summary: EP ENVI Committee – Joint debate on the Implementation of the Ecodesign Directive (26 February 2018)

A summary of the a presentation of the EPRS study on ecodesign and consideration of the draft report on the implementation of the Ecodesign Directive is now available. 

EP ENVI Committee – 26 February 2018
Joint debate
7. Presentation of the EPRS Study on ecodesign
8. Implementation of the Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC)
– Consideration of draft report
– Deadline for tabling amendments:6 March 2018, 11.00
View the EPRS study on ecodesign
View related documents and the next stage of the procedure in the Policy Pipeline

Eleanor Drabik from Centre for European Policy Studies made the following remarks:

  • stakeholders had expressed that the Directive had been extremely successful in its energy efficiency objectives, but less attention had been given to material efficiency;
  • stakeholders had 3 positions on the Directive:
    • to limit it to energy related products only;
    • to include and to strengthen material efficiency requirements for energy related products;
    • to expand the scope to non-energy related products such as furniture;
  • almost all stakeholders highlighted the long regulatory process and market surveillance as obstacles.

Xavier Gabarrell Durany from UAB Barcelona made the following remarks:

  • there was a need for more detailed analysis of the circular economy aspects of many domestic products regarding durability, the design for re-use and repair and recycling. These aspects should be discussed at the beginning of preparatory studies;
  • the Ecodesign Directive should be used as a tool to align other legislative measures in the EU, such as the waste Directives.

Rapporteur Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE) made the following remarks:

  • she stated that she had based her draft report on the findings of the EPRS study;
  • the Ecodesign Directive affected a large range of energy related products, such as household appliances, televisions, lights and solar panels;
  • she stressed that awareness rising among European citizens needed to be increased;
  • there were big expectations for the Directive, especially on savings for European consumers. The current work had saved European households approximately 490 EUR per year in energy bills;
  • there was unanimous criticism regarding the delays. She insisted in paragraphs 5 and 6 that the Commission needed to address the issue. European manufacturers needed to be able to rely on a clear timetable, and it was vital for them to be able to compete globally;
  • the message from the Committee’s exchange of views with Vice-President Katainen had been promising. The focus would no longer solely be on energy efficiency, as he had specifically mentioned recycling;
  • the transition from an energy economy to a resource economy would emphasise resource efficiency, and she stated that this varied from product-to-product. She believed a case-by-case approach was the right one;
  • she raised the issue of market surveillance. 10 to 20% of products under the Directive were non-compliant and this needed to stop. In paragraphs 11 to 13 of her text, she suggested to extend the scope of the European Market Surveillance Database to incorporate environmental performance;
  • on the issue of the inclusion of mobile phones in the Commission Work Programme, she stated that it was clear that they had an impact on the environment but there were no European measures in place and it would not be easy given the rapid pace of development;
  • she stated that the “race to innovate should not overshadow Ecodesign”. It was impossible to replace an integrated battery and in paragraph 10 she asked the Commission to add mobile phones to their Ecodesign work-list;
  • regarding pre-mature obsolescence, she had addressed this in paragraph 8 of her report. She agreed with the suggestion of labelling on products to indicate their lifespan.

Shadow Rapporteurs

 Francesc Gambús (EPP, ES)

  • he thanked the Rapporteur for the work on the draft report and the considerable amount of effort to produce a text that could be agreed on from the beginning. His group agreed with many aspects of the draft report, particularly on changing perspectives to Ecodesign;
  • the transition to the circular economy meant not only involving citizens, but also industry and economy stakeholders as they would be the ones responsible for the transformation;
  • he stressed the need for proper information and awareness raising of the individual benefits of Ecodesign for European consumers;
  • Vice-President Katainen had highlighted how difficult it was to limit the implementation of the circular economy to just one political sphere. The circular economy needed to be a joint effort;
  • energy efficiency was a key element of Ecodesign but there were other issues to focus on too, such as the re-use of materials;
  • he stated that it did not make sense that mobile phones were not included in the scope;
  • his group would be tabling amendments to strengthen the report.

 Miriam Dalli (S&D, MT) read out a statement on the behalf of Massimo Paolucci (S&D, IT)

  • the draft report was a good basis for discussion as it contained a number of very good proposals on the implementation of the Directive;
  • his group would be tabling amendments to reinforce certain aspects, focusing on a number of elements:
    • market surveillance. Member States (MS) should use existing databases for surveillance and share the results of compliance checks, and the Commission should have stronger oversight of national surveillance. The suggestion of the creation of a new market surveillance body should be properly assessed;
    • stronger surveillance was necessary for voluntary agreements, imported products and goods sold online;
    • his group wanted to make a clear link between the Ecodesign Directive and the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD). A well functioning inspection system under the EPBD could lead to properly planned replacements of appliances;
    • his group supported the suggestion to broaden the scope of the Directive to non-energy related products to water-related products;
  • the S&D group’s call for a collective EU redress scheme was reiterated.

Bolesław G. Piecha (ECR, PL) spoke on the behalf of Nikolay Barekov (ECR, BG)

  • product design needed to be durable. It needed to be ensured that products could be repaired in order to extend their lifetime;
  • energy efficiency needed to be considered. It was the “the biggest challenge” for new products;
  • the costs associated with ensuring energy efficiency should not become unaffordable for SMEs;
  • ecodesign should also play a role in improving air quality.

Margrete Auken (Greens/EFA, DK)

  • the decisive aspect of the report was that it could be used to underscore how important the Ecodesign Directive has been, and to ensure that it was being upheld;
  • better control mechanisms and implementation phases were necessary;
  • she agreed with the Rapporteur that the scope of the Directive should include resource efficiency;
  • mobiles phones showed that software was influencing the lifespan of hardware;
  • she stated that “recycling had not come that far”. Waste sorting and collection needed to be improved;
  • she cautioned against broadening the scope too widely. There was a risk of making it “too comprehensive” which would make it very difficult to comply with.

Eleonora Evi (EFDD, IT)

  • there was no doubt that there had been savings made on primary energy consumption as well as emissions due to the Directive;
  • she stated that the Directive could be made even more ambitious;
  • she agreed that it was vital to discuss resource efficiency. It was crucial to have proper design and planning;
  • she agreed that the life-span of products, as well as the recycling of their component parts needed to be discussed;
  • she asked if the Commission had plans to put into place mandatory requirements with regard to the minimum lifespan of products and their component parts;
  • the potential of creating jobs also needed to be assessed;
  • she believed that it would be useful to provide consumers with information similar to the carbon footprint monitor.

Interventions from other Members

Françoise Grossetête (EPP, FR)

  • the potential of the Directive for the circular economy was not being sufficiently addressed;
  • design of products should ensure that future re-use and repair was possible;
  • she believed a balance needed to be struck between the needs of the circular economy and keeping the competitiveness of European companies high;
  • she agreed that a case-by-case approach would be the best way.

EP ITRE Committee Rapporteur Michèle Rivasi (Greens/EFA, FR)

  • she also stated the need to address resource efficiency and extending the scope of the Directive accordingly;
  • ecodesign criteria needed to be defined for health products, which was not often discussed;
  • repairability was an important criteria as well;
  • regarding recycling, she stated that products should be designed to be 100% recyclable, “otherwise we are going to drown under great mountains of waste”;
  • she also raised the issue of rare earths;
  • she agreed with previous speakers on the importance of market surveillance;
  • regarding ethical concerns, she insisted that the Commission should investigate where materials came from.

A representative from the European Commission made the following remarks:

  • he thanked the Committee for its support for the Directive over many years;
  • regarding the delays, he acknowledged that it took on average 4 to 5 years for the provisions to be implemented. The Commission believed that this time was necessary because the Directive was a “very powerful instrument” and the Commission did not want to take banning products from the European market lightly;
  • regarding resource efficiency, he stated that the Commission was already incorporating elements of it in different measures and it was planning to do more;
  • on the issue of market surveillance, he agreed that more should be done. The Commission was supporting MS financially through joint surveillance actions;
  • he stated that improvements could be made through the proposals on the goods package which could have an impact on the Ecodesign Directive and energy labelling;
  • regarding mobile phones, he stated that the Commission had indicated that it would review mobile phones and other fast moving ICT products. He stated that “different ways” needed to be examined on how those products could be tackled under the Directive;
  • regarding software updates, he stated that something similar to the provisions on energy efficiency could be considered;
  • the Commission was already examining products that used water such as showers and he indicated that the scope of the Directive could already be extended. However, he stressed that the environmental impact of non-energy related products happened in the production phase. It was difficult to enforce requirements in this phase.

Eleanor Drabik from Centre for European Policy Studies

  • she stated that more resources would be necessary if the scope of the Directive was extended to include resource efficiency and other products. The costs would increase for the Commission and national authorities;
  • shortcomings in market surveillance could lead to issues in competitiveness, especially if products entered the market from third countries;
  • recycling was an area in which the EU could become a market leader, and reduce dependency on resources from outside the EU.

Xavier Gabarrell Durany from UAB Barcelona

  • the European market was an importer of products and raw materials. Raw materials were sometimes imported from third countries which did not have the same energy policies as the EU;
  • studies had shown that durability of products led to energy savings;
  • regarding pre-mature obsolescence of products, he stated that the only way this could be addressed from the environmental perspective would be to disassemble the products and re-use their parts;
  • he wanted more focus on repairability and re-use as a means of lifespan extension.

Rapporteur Frédérique Ries (ALDE, BE) made the following closing remarks:

  • she agreed that being more ambitious would be more expensive, but this would be cost-effective over the long-term period.

Source: One Policy Place

The simultaneous interpretation of debates provided by the EU institutions serves only to facilitate communication amongst the participants in the meeting. It does not constitute an authentic record of proceedings. One Policy Place uses these translations so this text is only a guide and should not be relied on as an official account of the meeting. Only the original speech or the revised written translation of that speech is authentic.

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