According to the Commission's plans, adopted on 21 October, the product groups under investigation will be included in the EU's 2005 Eco-design Directive, which defines binding minimum standards for energy performance. The final list includes such product groups as air-conditioning and ventilating systems as well as food preparation and refrigeration equipment.
This is the second batch of product groups to be selected. A first instalment, including heating equipment, lighting, domestic appliances and electric motors, was selected for energy-efficiency standards during the transitional phase following the directive's adoption in July 2005. Eco-design standards are expected to be finalised for five of these by 2009.
The candidates for the list were chosen on the basis of their primary energy consumption in order to select the products that would make the most significant contribution to reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Volume of sales and trade in the EU as well as the environmental impact and potential for energy savings were also important considerations.
The EU executive also works on the assumption that no excessive costs will accrue from improving the environmental impact of these product groups, but that no progress can be expected on the market unless either mandatory or voluntary requirements are introduced.
The new plan covers the period of 2009–11, during which the Commission also intends to initiate preparatory studies and consult stakeholders with a view to possible adoption of implementing measures. The working plan will be amended in case the EU executive's proposal to fully revise the Eco-design Directive is adopted. The aim is to include all energy-related products, inlcuding such non-energy using products as clothing and footwear, furniture, windows and insulation materials (EurActiv 28/04/08).
In the meantime, the Commission is calling on industries that manufacture energy-using products to develop self-imposed measures, which are given priority in regulation under the Eco-design Directive if they are deemed to be more efficient.