Ecodesign Directive and the Energy Labelling Directive
The number and importance of regulations on the energy efficiency of products are increasing continuously. Under the EU's Ecodesign and Energy Labelling directives, requirements are set on the manufacturing of products, and consumers are guided to choose better products. It has been calculated that, in Finland, the energy efficiency requirements for products can save a little over 3 TWh of electricity by 2020. In monetary terms, this means savings of roughly € 300 million for Finns. The requirements for the energy efficiency of products make up the largest set of regulations for energy savings in Finland.
At the EU level, the ecodesign of products is regulated by the Ecodesign Directive (2009/125/EC) and at the national Finnish level, by the Ecodesign Act (Laki tuotteiden ekologiselle suunnittelulle ja energiamerkinnälle asetettavista vaatimuksista 1005/2008, amended in 1009/2010, in Finnish). Ecodesign requirements are aimed at improving energy efficiency by integrating environmental issues and life-cycle thinking already in the product design phase. In practice, ecodesign requirements are usually applied to energy consumption during the use of the product. If a product does not meet the ecodesign requirements set for it, it cannot be placed on the EU market.
The Ecodesign Directive is a framework directive. It only creates an obligation on the manufacturers and importers of products after requirements for specific product groups have been drawn up for the product in question under the direction of the European Commission. The directive defines the grounds for selecting product groups. The prerequisite is that at least 200,000 products per year are sold within the EU area. The product must also have considerable environmental impact. In addition, there must be significant potential for improvement of the product in terms of its environmental impact without entailing excessive costs.
Implementation measures for specific product groups are prepared under the direction of the Commission in what is called a comitology procedure, i.e. following a regulatory procedure with scrutiny in a committee consisting of representatives of the Member States. The implementing acts issued under the Ecodesign Directive are Commission regulations, which are directly applicable in the Member States.
In addition to the Ecodesign Directive, the Energy Labelling Directive (2010/30/EU) is one of the framework directives related to the energy efficiency of products. The Energy Labelling Directive provides for an energy label to be attached to the product, which helps end users to select energy efficient products. At the national level, the Energy Labelling Directive, like the Ecodesign Directive, has been implemented through the Ecodesign Act.
An energy label must be attached to the products for which energy labelling regulations for specific product groups have been issued. The label shows the energy consumption of the product during its use on a scale from A to G. In some cases, classes higher than A, such as A+, A++ and A+++, are used.
Energy labelling regulations for specific product groups are prepared under the direction of the Commission. They are issued as Commission-delegated regulations, which are directly applicable in the Member States. Before the Energy Labelling Directive was renewed in the summer of 2010, the regulations for specific product groups were issued as directives. Directives for specific product groups have been implemented on the national level in decrees or decisions of the Ministry of Employment and the Economy (formerly known as the Ministry of Trade and Industry) and the Ministry of the Environment.
For products covered by energy labelling, the advertisements must include the energy efficiency class, along with the price and energy information of the product.
Preparation of implementing acts
In Finland, the energy efficiency of products falls within the mandate of both the Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry of the Environment. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy is responsible for the framework legislation. Of the regulations for specific product groups, the Ministry of the Environment is responsible for regulations concerning construction products, and the Ministry of Employment and the Economy is responsible for the regulations concerning other products. The Ministry of Employment and the Economy and the Ministry of the Environment coordinate the national preparation of regulations for specific product groups and consult with interest groups. To influence the content of the regulations, it is important to act as early as possible.
In Finland, the Finnish Safety and Chemicals Agency (Tukes) ensures that the ecodesign and energy labelling regulations are followed.
The website Ekosuunnitelu.info, which is maintained by Tukes, has information on the regulations for specific product groups that have been issued under the Ecodesign and Energy Labelling directives.