The Parliament was voting on two implementing measures under the current Energy Labelling Directive (EurActiv 22/04/09).
As most products have ended up in the best-performing 'A' class, the European Commission had proposed to add new classes to the highest category. For example, the proposed 'A-20%' denoted a product that consumes 20% less energy than a traditional A-class product.
Voting yesterday, a majority of EU lawmakers voted to block the new labels for televisions, claiming that they were misleading consumers about "whether class 'A' represents an efficient or an inefficient product".
But they failed to rally behind calls to block a similar measure for household fridges and freezers.
As a result, the Commission may go ahead and introduce the new format for fridges and freezers, but will have to come up with new proposals based on a closed A-G classification for televisions.
Moreover, the Parliament's vote on fridges directly contradicts another vote that took place earlier this week. On Tuesday, lawmakers voted on a proposal to revise the Energy Labelling Directive that explicitly rejected any move away from the well-known 'A-G' format (EurActiv 06/05/09).
By its own admission, the Parliament report stated that all implementing measures under the old directive would have to be aligned with the new one. New labels for fridges would thus need to be accommodated in the closed scheme at a later stage, should EU member states approve the revised directive in its current form.
The industry has been pushing for the Commission's solution, as they fear that downgrading their products' classification will reflect negatively on sales.
Orgalime, which represents the interests of European engineering industries, said proactive market players should not be punished. They had warned that a rejection of the Commission's implementation measures for televisions and fridges would "risk delaying a more rapid market transformation towards more energy efficient products".
Consumer groups, on the other hand, have been very critical of the new labels, warning that they would undermine fifteen years of efforts to encourage consumers to buy more energy-efficient refrigerators.