The Ecodesign Directive, or more specifically the "Directive 2009/125/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 21 October 2009 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-related products" aims at improving the environmental characteristics of energy-related products by establishing generic and specific ecodesign requirements. The directive entered into force on 20 November 2009 and replaces the previous Ecodesign Directive 2005/32/EC. The deadline for EU Member States to transpose the Directive 2009/125/EC into national law was the 20 November 2010.
The most important amendment in the new Directive concerns its scope, which has been extended from "energy-using" (EuP) to so-called "energy-related" products (ErP). The first version of the Ecodesign Directive was therefore often called "EuP Directive" - an abbreviation that is no longer appropriate.
The directive is an important instrument of environmental product policy. As a major share of the environmental impacts of products are predetermined during the design and construction phase, it is important to consider their impacts over the entire life cycle already in the production.
A major goal of the directive is to improve the energy efficiency of ErPs and thereby contribute to efforts to reach European targets for climate protection. The directive, however, does not only cover the energy use of products but rather aims to reduce the overall negative environmental impact of the products under consideration. It seeks to harmonise the European single market for energy using products to this end.
The implementation process
To substantiate the requirements for the environmental performance of selected products / product groups, the directive allows for two fundamentally different regulatory alternatives: mandatory regulation (implementing measures) and self-regulation initiatives by the relevant industries.
The European Commission, after seeking the opinion of the Consultation Forum and in coordination with the Regulatory Committee, determines every three years the product groups to be dealt with in a working plan. The first Working Plan was defined for the period from 2009 to 2011. The second Working Plan applies for the period from 2012 to 2014. On the basis of preparatory studies, which analyse the environmental impacts of the products, requirements for the environmental performance of the selected product groups are defined.
The participation of stakeholders (industry and its associations, SMEs, trade unions, retailers, importers, organisations for consumer and environmental protection) in the implementation process is ensured through the so-called Consultation Forum. It serves as forum to discuss drafts of implementing measures and impact assessments proposed by the Commission.
Following the consultation phase an impact assessment is completed for each implementing measure and the Commission discusses the measure internally (Interservice Consultation, ISC) and notifies it to the WTO. Finally, the draft regulation is presented for vote to an assembly of EU Member States representatives, known as the Regulatory Committee. The European Parliament then has the opportunity to intervene before an implementing measure enters into force.
The manufacturer or importer, respectively, is responsible to ensure the conformity of a product with the requirements. The national market surveillance authorities of the member states checks the compliance of the products through random tests.