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‘Don’t repeat mistakes on EuP consultation’

The European Commission must improve its consultation strategy ahead of launching the next phase of work on Energy Using Products (EuPs), according to the director-general of the Federation of Environmental Trade Associations (FETA).

The Establishment of the Working Plan for 2009-2011 under the Ecodesign Directive, published last month, will review air conditioners over 12kw, water cooled air conditioners and ventilation systems.

In the heating sector it will look at electric storage heating radiators, electric heaters, gas and oil-fired space heating systems and heat pumps.

This work will follow in the wake of new EuP standards for boilers, water heaters, fans, room air conditioners and commercial refrigerators, set to be unveiled next year.

But, Cedric Sloan, FETA director-general, said: “We have to watch this very carefully and put pressure on the European Commission to be sensible and not make decisions based on poor information.”

Mr Sloan said FETA members believed consultants undertaking consultations for the commission in the past had struggled due to the wide range of products being covered and the huge variations from country to country.

“This is significant as they could get it wrong again when they look at other products of importance to FETA members,” he said.

Kelly Butler, director at the British Electrotechnical and Allied Manufacturers Association, said he felt those undertaking previous consultations had been “extremely knowledgeable”, but problems had arisen when developing workable policies, particularly on boilers.

He said: “When it came to the practicality of implementing policy to effect change that was where they were poor – they didn’t understand how our market operates.”

Fiona Hall, Liberal Democrat MEP and member of the EU Committee on Industry, Research and Energy, said she was keen to develop better links between UK industry and the commission.

Earlier this year she organised a meeting between boiler manufacturers and commission representatives to address problems regarding proposals for that sector.

She said: “It is important that the consultation process is as wide as possible. If there are any complaints that the views of a sector are being missed I would be keen to address that; and if there are manufacturers who have problems with anything like this I am always willing to take up their concerns.”

She said the European Parliament is likely to ask for additional scrutiny powers when the EuP directive is reviewed in the coming months, which means there will be another chance to look at commission proposals.

Andrew Warren, from the Association for Conservation of Energy (ACE), sits on the commission’s consultation forum on behalf of the European Alliance of Companies for Energy Efficiency (EuroACE).

He said: “I know some people have not been happy, but genuinely I believe that if all manufacturers, distributers and installers agree on proposals which achieve the same objectives on energy saving that the commission wants then they will be listened to.

“I have been told by Andris Piebalgs, the Commissioner for Energy, that it is not his intention to bulldoze these things through.”