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Well-known Energy Label loses its “power”


01 Apr 2009


Health & Consumers
Innovation & Enterprise

European consumer organisations are dismayed at yesterday’s vote by Member States adopting a new layout for the well-known A-G Energy Label. The decision is all the more unacceptable considering that this new layout has not been tested for consumer understanding. Yesterday’s vote is a clear step backwards for consumers who want to buy more energy efficient household appliances and will undo all the progress made over the last 15 years in building up consumers’ confidence in the Energy Label.
We are extremely concerned that the new layout for the Energy Label will not make it easy for consumers to make sustainable choices. On the contrary, the new label is misleading and unclear.

The top category will change over time and will be named A -20%, A -40% etc. Previous consumer surveys1 testing alternative layouts had unequivocally shown that almost all consumers find the straightforward A-G label easiest to understand.

ANEC and BEUC therefore urge the Commission to ensure that the new label is evaluated through consumer perception research as soon as possible in order to make sure its message is being understood by consumers. If the findings show that consumers do not understand the new label
easily, ANEC and BEUC believe the A-G layout must be reintroduced.

Member States also voted on eco-design requirements for televisions and refrigerators. Although we welcome that this decision will lead to the least energy efficient appliances being phased out of the market, we believe these measures will be seriously undermined by the decision to change the layout of the Energy Label as consumers will no longer be able to readily identify the most energyefficient products on the market.

“The decision taken by Member States will ruin a widely-recognised label and render its meaning useless as the familiar message to buy only ‘A’ appliances will be lost.

We regret the strong industry influence behind this decision. Let’s not forget that this label aims to inform consumers, not serve industry interests,” commented Stephen Russell, ANEC Secretary-General.

Monique Goyens, BEUC Director General stated: “Member States and the European Commission should not count on consumer organisations’ efforts to communicate the meaning of this new layout to the users. We will not promote a label which is so incomprehensible”.

1 ANEC, BEUC, Consumer Focus (formerly UK National Consumer Council), the UK Energy Saving Trust and the UK
Department for environment, Food and Rural Affairs (DEFRA). The study results are available