The Brief: Regulate toasters for an ambitious circular economy

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The European Commission will call into question the much-vaunted ambition of its Circular Economy Package, if it doesn’t regulate products such as toasters and hairdryers.

Leaked documents suggest the executive will ditch plans to regulate the energy efficiency of the household appliances, as well as some signage and vending machines for hot food and drink.

Furious campaigners blame Jean-Claude Juncker. They claim the Commission president is terrified of another tabloid hoo-haa, such as the one about Brussels bureaucrats meddling with our Hoovers.

But Juncker, no fan of the tabloid press, needs to realise he is mistaken. If he sticks to his guns, he is arming an environmental timebomb.

Ecodesign can allow for rules that insist products are made in such a way that facilitates repair and recycling, as well as imposing cost-saving energy efficiency standards.

The Commission will decide which products to exclude from its work plan for the Ecodesign Directive in the coming weeks.

Inclusion in the work plan does not guarantee EU regulation, just an investigation of the product. But exclusion from the plan makes regulation impossible for the next few years.

During that time, every inefficient, hard-to-recycle toaster that rolls off the conveyor belt could end up in landfill in, say, 2025-2030.

The Circular Economy Package is based on creating a system where as little as possible is wasted in a world of finite resources and booming populations. It also imposes targets on member states to reduce landfill.

The Commission controversially used its Better Regulation strategy to withdraw an earlier version of the package before retabling it a year later.

It insisted that the replacement rules were “more ambitious”, and pointed to Ecodesign as the “missing part of the circle” in the old package.

Failing to even look at toasters and hairdryers as candidates for regulation would be counter-productive, cost consumers more, and be bad for the environment.

Avoiding that is worth suffering a few bad headlines. Juncker should bite the bullet.


The Commission has set out its Work Programme for 2017. Policies on migration, defence, the internal market and a European Pillar of Social Rights are mooted. So is work on Energy Union, Capital Markets Union and reform of the EU-27.

A meeting between Belgium’s federal government and the country’s regional governments has been underway since 4PM today, as a last-ditch effort to strike an agreement over CETA. Meanwhile, amid controversy over Wallonia’s power grab, German MEP Udo Bullmann defended the European Commission’s decision to give regions a say on CETA.

The Commission has proposed its plans for the Common Consolidated Corporate Tax Base, which it calls a major reform that will fight tax avoidance and make it easier to do business in the single market.

The leader of Austria’s right-wing FPÖ has called Angela Merkel “the most dangerous woman in Europe” and claims she could start a civil war.

MEPs voted to lift Jean-Marie Le Pen’s immunity today over statements that incited racial hated. It’s the fourth time the European Parliament has revoked his immunity since 1989.

François Hollande’s approval rating has hit rock bottom, plummeting to a pitiful 4%. Prime Minister Manuel Valls is presenting himself as a safer bet to take over.

Nobel Prize-winning economist Jean Tirole is holding out hope that Brexit can still be stopped.

German weapons manufacturers raked in more than €4 billion from arms exports in the first six months of this year. Most of the sales went to EU and NATO countries; €5.4 million worth of weapons were sent to Iraq.

Yesterday, we asked how much the European Parliament’s legislative train online platform cost the taxpayer.

The Parliament got in touch. The Brief is pleased to report it was developed internally, principally by DG COMM. There were no additional costs at all.


Space. The final frontier. But listening to some in Brussels at the moment, you could be forgiven for thinking that Wallonia was the final frontier. Anyway, the EU and the European Space Agency are making a joint declaration on space policy tomorrow. That has to be worth a look.

Views are entirely the author’s, and not our sponsor’s.

This Brief was powered by FoodDrinkEurope.


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