Consumer group slams new energy-labelling scheme

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European consumers’ organisation BEUC yesterday (6 October) criticised a new Commission proposal to rank household goods such as fridges and washing machines according to the amount of energy they consume, describing it as overly complicated and confusing for consumers.

The current A to G labelling scheme is well-known among EU citizens and should not be replaced by something unnecessarily complicated, the organisation said in a statement on Monday (6 October). 

The proposed changes are part of implementing measures set out in the EU’s 2005 Framework Directive on Eco-design requirements for Energy-using Products (EuP), which aims to reduce the energy consumption of all consumer appliances running on electricity. 

EU lawmakers are currently adding new product groups to the directive and have recently added lighting and TV ‘set-top’ boxes to the list of regulated equipment (EURACTIV 29/09/08). 

As the Commission extends its review to more consumer products, a new labelling design and classification has been put forward for approval. 

But in the run-up to a stakeholders meeting on 16 October, BEUC reviewed the working documents and now fears that several templates may be confusing for consumers. 

After conducting research in several member states, the consumer organisation concluded that the A-G design system was both easy to understand and easy to remember. 

“The clear A-G label template should be used to cover all consumer products under the 2005 framework directive, including new product groups like televisions,” said BEUC’s Sylvia Maurer. 

To support its position, BEUC conducted empirical research with the help of research institute Ipsos MORI in seven member states: Great Britain, Poland, Denmark, Germany, France, Italy and the Netherlands. 

The study concluded that awareness of existing energy labels was very high, varying between 81 and 95%. Consumers had the chance to assess three types of label, of which the current A-G label was the easiest to understand, according to the survey. 

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