Energy labelling revision: Parliament tries to avoid further involvement of new euro-sceptic group

By Émilie Bergeron and Clara Ribera

BRUSSELS – The energy labelling legislation affecting all European Union countries is about to change. The A+ system currently used to evaluate household items energy efficiency is waiting to be rescaled. A proposal from the Commission needs to be ratified by the Parliament and the Council of Ministers, but the process is on hold as some members of the Parliament fear the file will fall into radical euro-sceptic hands.

A proposition to review energy labels was presented by the European Commission last summer. It brings forward the fact that the current scale –affecting European citizens in its purchases– is not clear enough [see main article to read about this change]. Consequently, as home products contribute to part of CO2 emissions in the continent, the European Union might fail to reach its 2020 energy efficiency goals.

“Members of the European Council [heads of States] will present their common position paper by November,” explains Andras Toth, policy officer from the Energy directorate-general of the Commission. “Usually it is the Parliament who speaks first, but there is a delay at the moment.” Now, all 28 ministers sitting in the Council and the 751 members of the European Parliament are separately analysing the proposal submitted last July by the Commission. They are expected to present some changes and vote for their final draft by next summer. If anything comes up, new labels would come into force in 2017.

However, the committee in charge of this folder (the Committee on Industry, Research and Energy – ITRE) in Parliament is struggling to appoint a member of the Parliament responsible to go through the proposal. This person, called the rapporteur, has the task to analyse the project, consult with specialists in the field and recommend the political line to follow. The rules to appoint the rapporteur vary from committee to committee, and in the case of ITRE they are still not fixed.

“We know that according to current rules, some of the files in the ITRE committee would go to the Europe of Nations and Freedom (ENF) [Front National’s recently created group, see infographic]. Therefore, the Parliament is now trying to prevent them from obtaining any of the files”, says Andras Toth. Even though Energy Labelling is a consensual issue, the choice of the rapporteur can have a big influence on the process of writing a new piece of legislation.

“There is political struggle. Once they will have agreed on the new rules, any group could get the file. We have no clue of who could get it at the moment,” adds Toth. Sources from ITRE committee confirm there is currently a disagreement although it was not specified why the majority does not want to appoint an ENF rapporteur.

“Having a rapporteur gives prestige to a political group, and the ENF is very new, so of course they will try to get any file they can,” says this person from ITRE committee.

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