Evolution of the household appliance industry in Europe

Gist of the opinion

The strength of the European household appliances industry lies in its ability to make high-quality and sustainable products; this strength has to be underpinned and expanded by an adequate European policy based on continuous effort and improvement in technology innovation and continuous training activity to increase the skill of the employees. Such policy should foster the development of energy-efficient household appliances, with enhanced recycling capacity.

The European Union legislation could have a direct influence on the competitiveness of the sector, mainly through the proposal for the extension of the Ecodesign Directive and the proposal for the revision of the Ecolabel Regulation, resulting in increased energy efficiency and reduced CO2 emissions. So as to reduce the threat and trend of relocation of industry outside Europe, the loss of jobs and the risk of curbing consumers' interest.

Market surveillance is of paramount importance so as to safeguard the European industry, the workers in this industry, the consumers' interest and the environment. Market surveillance should be implemented through the use of the following measures:

• devolving of more resources by the Member States and the EU for a stricter verification of product compliance with European single market standards and legislation, particularly on imported products;
• eradicating unfair competition and dumping. Anti dumping measures should be carefully studied so as not to be counter productive to the European industry encouraging the relocation of the industry outside Europe or the increase of imports; they should be raised not only on the whole appliance but also on the components;
• revising the labelling system so as to reflect the advances in the innovation of the technology without giving false perceptions of value changes;
• tighter control so as to reduce the counterfeiting and pass off, slavish/copies phenomena;
• controls that labels, particularly those on imported goods, are truly what they claim to be and not misleading.

It would be beneficial in terms of sustainability for the EU to also influence other countries in adopting the high standards that the EU itself is undertaking to adopt for the internal market, since this would result in potential global energy saving.

The EESC believes that EU policy should facilitate the transition of industry to more innovative products and related services, which are strategically relevant due to their impact on the CO2 emissions and energy consumption, such as solar panels, photovoltaic units, heat pumps, hydrogen cells, microgeneration units and high performance air conditioning devices. This would be conducive to employment creation and greater choice for the consumer.