The first half of 2016 saw significant delays on product policy developments, the main reason being Brexit. The UK Referendum held back a number of product measures ready for adoption, and the Ecodesign Working Plan 2015-2017 has yet to be published. Fearing the continuation of British media attacks on EU product policies, the European Commission adopted a zero-risk approach with no actions taken during this period, with the belief that no news is good news.
Now in the post-Brexit era, will Europe finally ramp up ambition? The answer depends on how the European institutions respond to the unfolding ‘Brexistential’ crisis and the rise of populism. Embracing a deregulation agenda, may appear appealing to some, but a better solution would be to justify to voters how and why these sensible policies exist.
For product policies, the European Commission’s approach to date swings both ways: Commissioners agreed in April to be more mindful around communications, which we hope means giving product policies a PR boost. Member States especially are invited to communicate more on the benefits of Ecodesign and the Energy Label. The Commissioners also introduced a new step in today’s already slow policy process, in an attempt to cut back on bureaucracy. The Commission is now expected to publish the Working Plan in October, and also to hopefully give the green light for several products developments ready for the next step, including TVs, electric motors, and commercial refrigeration.
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