Lighting – The Single Market requires better enforcement of EU rules

While great progress has been made over the past decades to complete the European Single Market, an ever-increasing number of non-compliant products, including lighting products, remain easily accessible to end-users.

The lighting industry is coping with many rules. Soon, the European Commission will publish its new requirements on Eco-design and energy labelling for lighting. 80 pages of new rules that our industry will have to apply as of 25 December for some or September 2021 and 2023 for others.

A new database, the European Registry for Energy Labelling – so-called EPREL, requires, since July 2019, that all light sources placed on the market since August 2017 be registered. More than 2000 lamp models were already registered since the beginning of the year. To name, but a few. And this just at the EU level. Let’s not forget that our industry also must comply with purely national legal requirements on a market that covers 27 countries.

2019 is a year of change for the European Union, with new Members of Parliament and Commissioners entering office. It was also a year of change for Lighting Europe. We reassessed our long-term vision and priorities, which led to the creation of a working group dedicated to the issue of better enforcement. Ensuring that products comply with these many rules comes at a cost for our members. They invest time.  At the moment, a new lamp must go through 9 months of testing before being sold in the EU. Of course, complying comes at a cost.  When referring to the presence of non-compliant products on the EU market, one will immediately think of consumers and how it puts their safety at risk. But we should not forget that it also threatens the balance between the different industry players and therefore the level-playing field.

Recently adopted European market surveillance rules are steering the discussion in the right direction. The new Compliance and Enforcement Directive will, for instance, create new opportunities for the industry and market surveillance authorities to collaborate, which is key to making progress in eliminating non-compliant products from the market. LightingEurope will provide assistance to the Energy Efficiency Compliant Products 2018 – also called EEPliant 3 – a pan-EU market surveillance project that will look at different categories of products, including lighting and test some models against the new EU Energy Labelling and Ecodesign rules. A similar exercise was conducted in 2014 and saw 86 lamps tested. It resulted then that only 14% of the tested models were fully compliant.

Tests are carried out by authorities at the national level as well, but the resources allocated to them are not commensurate to the volume of items available or rules to apply. As an example, the French authority recently shared some data on the checks they have done in 2018 for luminaires. 500 products were verifi ed. Out of these 500, 55 were tested. Only 5% of the tested models were fully compliant. 35% were not only non-compliant but also considered dangerous. More needs to be done to ensure a more efficient market surveillance. And this starts with allocating more resources to the authorities in charge of doing so.

On top of collaborating with authorities, LightingEurope will also develop sets of guidelines in the months and years to come.  We will publish by the end of 2019 specific guidelines on the new Eco-design and Energy labelling rules for lighting. Such a document will be a key tool to ensure that our industry complies with a legislation that includes significant changes, from the phase out of conventional technologies to increased performance and environmental requirements for lighting products.  Even so considering that no guidelines will be published by the European Commission.

The lack of enforcement of EU legislation is not a new issue. The challenges in how to address it, however, evolve with time and sometimes technological developments. The development of eCommerce, whilst an opportunity also allows for an easy access for non-compliant products. A simple search on online marketplaces will show you that you can still purchase online lighting products that have been banned lighting for years. Many counterfeited products are also still entering the EU market, mainly coming from outside of Europe. The European Commission recently mentioned that 27 million fake and potentially dangerous articles were detained in 2018 by customs authorities. More should be done to address the new challenges related to this channel of distribution and attribute clear liability in case of non-compliance. All the operators of the EU internal market should play by the same rules. LightingEurope is committed to helping reduce distortions and therefore create a safer and fairer environment for both end-users and the industry. 

Lighting Association Ireland are members of Lighting Europe. 

The Irish representatives to lighting Europe are Gearoid Mc Kenna and Gay Byrne.