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FAQs - Frequently Asked Questions about the Ecodesign Directive

General

What does EuP / ErP mean?

The abbreviation EuP stands for energy-using product. The Ecodesign Directive is sometimes still called "EuP Directive" because it covered only energy-using products originally. However, since the recast in 2009 the Directive covers all "energy-related products" or ErP.

What are the objectives of the Ecodesign Directive?

A major aim of the directive is to improve the environmental performance of energy-related products. The directive applies the Integrated Product Policy (IPP) approach, which aims at reducing negative environmental impacts over the whole life cycle of a product, thereby avoiding that improvements with regard to a particular environmental impact lead to negative impacts elsewhere. The Ecodesign Directive in particular aims at increasing the energy efficiency of energy-related products and harmonising the requirements for such products with regard to the European Internal Market.

The directive allows for two different alternatives to flesh out these aims with concrete requirements: mandatory implementing measures or self-regulation by industry.

Who is concerned by the Ecodesign Directive?

The directive concerns everyone who places energy-related products or product components on the market, for which an implementing measure exists or is planned (cf. overview and working plan). The directive itself does not directly have an impact on manufacturers or importers since detailed requirements are contained only in the implementing measures. However, it defines the overarching framework of responsibilities for manufacturers and importers for all concerned product groups.

Placing on the market means making an ErP available (manufacturing or import) for the first time on the Internal Market of the European Union. Products for which an implementing measure exists must not be placed on the market or put into service without declaration of conformity and the CE label.

Political context

Which actors and bodies are involved in implementing the Ecodesign directive?

A number of actors is involved in preparing the implementing measures. The EU Commission mandates a preparatory study for each product group, to which many stakeholders can make contributions. The COmmission also adopts the measures finally, but before that extensive discussions take place in the Consultation Forum and the Regulatory Committee holds a vote on the measure. At the end of the process, the EU parliament can still reject a measure.

Process

Which products are addressed?

The European Commission appoints the product groups in the so-called Working Plan in association with the Member States and involving market stakeholders and other interested parties.

The Ecodesign Directive includes criteria for the selection of the product groups to be addressed for the establishment of requirements on environmental performance. Besides the market volume of minimum 200 000 devices per year (of the entire product group within the European market) the product groups environmental impact and the improvement potential are taken into consideration.

What is a preparatory study and which function does it have?

In order to create a basis for the development of appropriate requirements the European Commission mandates preparatory studies for every product group listed in the Working Plan. On the basis of the preparatory studies (which include information on existing regulations and standards, technical data, sales data, environmental impact etc.) the Commission develops requirements with regard to the environmental performance of the selected products or product groups.

What is the function of the working document in the process?

On the basis of the preparatory studies the EU Commission (or the respective Directorate General Energy, Enterprise and Industry, or Environment) develops a working document, which is a first outline of the implementing measure.This document is open for stakeholder input. On the one hand stakeholders can give written comments on the working document and on the other hand a hearing for interested parties takes place (Consultation Forum).

What is the process from the working document to the implementing measure?

The EU Commission revises the working document taking into account the statements of stakeholders. Often it is necessary to revise the working document several times and more than one opportunity to submit comments is provided to stakeholders. After this and after Interservice Consultation within the Commission, an impact assessment is carried out. If the impact assessment comes to the conclusion that the working document or parts of it are not feasible due to technical, economic or other reasons, it is revised again. The draft implementing measure is then presented for vote to the Regulatory Committee. If the Committee does not reject the measure, the European Parliament has 3 months to scrutinise the implementing measure before it comes into force.

What opportunities are there to influence the process?

Stakeholders have several opportunities to feed their positions into the process:

  • study for preparing the working plan (indicative list of product groups which will be considered as priorities for the adoption of the preparatory study and later on implementing measures): stakeholders are consulted.
  • the initial proposal of the working plan: discussed by the Consultation Forum during the development of the working plan
  • preparatory study: stakeholders of interested groups are consulted and stakeholder meetings are held during the process of a preparatory study
  • working document: comments (statements) may be sent directly to the European Commission or may be introduced by representatives of the Consultation Forum

The implementing measure and the self-regulatory initiative

What may be the role of self-regulatory initiatives?

Self-regulatory initiatives should be considered and be given priority when voluntary measures by the industry would provide faster progress. The EuP directive defines conditions for acceptable self-regulations.

What to avoid when defining implementing measures?

Implementing measures must not result in a significant negative impact on

  • the functionality, affordability or life cycle of the product;
  • the industry's competitiveness;
  • health, safety and the environment.

Proprietary technology and excessive administrative burden may not be imposed on manufacturers. The time schedule for phasing-in requirements should take product development cycles into account.

Controls and penalties

Who does the surveillance and what are the penalties for non-compliant ErPs?

The Ecodesign Directive leaves the responsibility for market surveillance to the EU Member States. The competent authorities are entitled to organise appropriate checks on ErP compliance. Penalties for non-compliant ErPs range from fines to the requirement to recall the product from the market.