Ecodesign Directive

The EU Ecodesign Directive establishes a framework under which manufacturers of energy-using products are obliged to reduce the energy consumption and other negative environmental impacts occurring throughout the product life cycle. It is complemented by the Energy Labelling Directive.

It is generally acknowledged that a product's lifetime energy use is strongly influenced at the design phase.

'Ecodesign' means that there will be a greater focus on lifetime energy use and other environmental aspects during the conception and design phases, before it is manufactured and brought to market.

The combination of ecodesign and energy labelling is considered as one of the most effective policy tool in the area of energy efficiency.

What is the Ecodesign Directive?

The Ecodesign Directive sets a framework for performance criteria which manufacturers must meet in order to legally bring their product to the market. It does not yet, however, prescribe specific measures or standards and sets no overall energy saving targets. A revised Directive extends the scope of the existing Directive by covering in principle all energy-related products.

All energy using products sold in the domestic, commercial and industrial sectors are covered by the Directive with the exception of all means of transport which are covered by other legislation. The revised Directive, which entered into force in November 2009, extends the scope of the existing Directive by covering in principle all energy-related products. In the future, windows, insulation materials, and certain water using products like shower heads or taps are expected to be covered as well.

While ecodesign aims at improving the energy and environmental performance of products and set minimum requirements, energy labelling requirements aim at providing the information about the same performance. The recast Energy Labelling Directive Directive 2010/30/EU was adopted in May 2010. It extends the energy labelling system from consumer-related products to energy-related products in the commercial and industrial sectors, for example cold storage rooms and vending machines.

Products and measures

Detailed actions are introduced by the European Commission following a process of discussion with key stakeholders and through what the Commission calls implementing measures. Manufacturers who begin marketing an energy using product covered by an implementing measure in the EU area have to ensure that it conforms to the energy and environmental standards set out by the measure.

The Ecodesign Working plan sets out an indicative list of prioritised product groups. The Working Plan 2012-2014 was released in December 2012 and replaced the first Working Plan (2009-2011).

Requirements for product energy labelling are adopted alongside ecodesign implementing measures. Energy labels are intended to provide consumers with energy and environmental information on which they can base a choice between products on the market.

Each product group is called a "Lot". For each lot, there is an extensive product study, which examines market data, technological status and provides recommendations to the Commission. During the study phase, interested stakeholders will meet to discuss the study.

Alternatives to implementing measures are so called Self-regulation by industry or Voluntary Agreements. Such agreements have to achieve the same objectives as legislation and fulfil certain criteria. For more information view the section on Voluntary Agreements.

More information of the ErP process can be found under the section Ecodesign process and in the flow charts in the right column.