Tuesday

12th Nov 2019

EU scraps A+ energy labels, years after being told it was a bad idea

  • The A+ labels were criticised from the very start (Photo: Vilseskogen)

The European Commission is proposing to reform the EU’s energy labelling system after it emerged that the current system confuses customers.

The system allows products to be rated for energy efficiency using a scale of letters as well as a green-to-red colour code.

Read and decide

Join EUobserver today

Support quality EU news

Get instant access to all articles — and 18 year's of archives. 30 days free trial.

... or join as a group

  • The energy label from 2010 that the commission now wants to repeal (Photo: European Commission)

But the commission admitted earlier this month that the scheme had become less effective since the A-to-G scale was expanded to include A+, A++ and A+++ classifications, with the last being the most environment friendly.

It is proposing a return to the simple A-to-G scale because consumers do not perceive products in the A + category as being much more efficient so are less willing to pay a higher price.

“People know that an A-class refrigerator is good. They don't know what those pluses are for,” Lorenzo van 't Hoff, a kitchen seller in Amsterdam, told this website.

But the confusion had already been predicted in 2008, when European lawmakers approved the new system in the face of warnings by consumer organisations and green groups.

The plus system was added after business groups successfully argued that there should be a way for producers to put more efficient products on the market without having to rescale the energy label.

In November 2009, governments negotiated the proposal with the European Parliament. Sweden, holding the rotating EU presidency, proposed that three additional classes (A+, A++, and A+++) be added.

The parliament had earlier voted to keep a fixed A-G scale, but accepted the Swedish proposal.

The decision was met with criticism from consumer organisations and environmental organisations.

Consumer organisations argued that the EU “should not introduce a change to something that has proven to work”, noting that 'buy A' had become a familiar slogan.

“It devalues the difference between the better energy efficiency performers - equivalent to replacing Olympic gold, silver and bronze medals with gold+, gold++ and gold+++”, said Green MEP Satu Hassi, from Finland.

Almost six years after those warnings, the commission has now come to the same conclusion.

“In order to make it easier for consumers to understand and compare products, the European Commission is suggesting to have one single 'A to G' energy label”, it said earlier in July.

This was an almost perfect echo of the argument for introducing the A+ scheme in 2010, which was hailed at the time as “easy to understand for consumers”.

EU envisages soft touch Energy Union

According to an internal document, the commission is floating monitoring and reporting instruments, but no strict measures to police proposed new rules.

EU fixes own mistake on 'confusing' energy labels

UPDATED: MEPs approved a new system to inform consumers about the energy efficiency of products. The most important change is abolishing the most recent change to a scale that goes up to A+++.

Sinkevičius pledges to 'listen' to climate protests

Lithuania's commissioner-designate, Virginijus Sinkevičius, unveiled during his three-hour hearing on Thursday a package of proposals to protect the environment - from the bottom of the oceans to the top of the sky.

Analysis

The controversy behind the Energy Charter Treaty reforms

Experts from several organisations say that reform of the Energy Charter Treaty, proposed by the EU Commission, will make it difficult to meet the targets agreed in the Paris Agreement - making it an obstacle to the clean-energy transition.

Analysis

EU purchase of US gas serves dual purpose

The EU wants to diversify the sources where it gets its natural gas from - while importing more liquefied natural gas (LNG) from the US could also slightly appease Donald Trump.

News in Brief

  1. Three new commissioner-designates pass legal scrutiny
  2. ECJ: EU countries must label Israeli settlement products
  3. Belgian asylum centre set on fire
  4. Xi Jingping in Athens promises new investment
  5. Farage's Brexit Party will not stand in Tory-held seats
  6. British founder of Syrian 'White Helmets' found dead
  7. Eight member states ask for EU aviation tax
  8. EU allocates €55m humanitarian aid to Sudan

Planned German coal exit boosts case for Nord Stream 2

German commission recommends phasing out coal power over the next 19 years - which will provide additional arguments to build the controversial Nord Stream 2 pipeline from Russia, which both the European Commission and the US have reservations about.

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNESDAUNESDA welcomes Nicholas Hodac as new Director General
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersBrussels welcomes Nordic culture
  3. UNESDAUNESDA appoints Nicholas Hodac as Director General
  4. UNESDASoft drinks industry co-signs Circular Plastics Alliance Declaration
  5. FEANIEngineers Europe Advisory Group: Building the engineers of the future
  6. Nordic Council of MinistersNew programme studies infectious diseases and antibiotic resistance
  7. UNESDAUNESDA reduces added sugars 11.9% between 2015-2017
  8. International Partnership for Human RightsEU-Uzbekistan Human Rights Dialogue: EU to raise key fundamental rights issues
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNo evidence that social media are harmful to young people
  10. Nordic Council of MinistersCanada to host the joint Nordic cultural initiative 2021
  11. Vote for the EU Sutainable Energy AwardsCast your vote for your favourite EUSEW Award finalist. You choose the winner of 2019 Citizen’s Award.
  12. Nordic Council of MinistersEducation gets refugees into work

Latest News

  1. Pro-Israeli group scores own goal on EU retail labels
  2. New commissioners clear 'conflict of interests' hurdle
  3. Israeli labelling ruling lets consumers make choice
  4. What does Macron really want on Western Balkans?
  5. Far-right Vox celebrates, as Spain left without majority
  6. EU 'climate bank' won't rule out carbon capture
  7. New hearings for the von der Leyen commission This WEEK
  8. Bosnia wants explanation for Macron's 'time-bomb' remark

Join EUobserver

Support quality EU news

Join us