EU law on low-energy lighting in force

Directive to require use of more efficient ballasts in fluorescent lights in three phases

Fluorescent lights used in European factories, offices and homes are set to become more efficient under an EU directive that entered into force last week. The law will impose stricter energy efficiency requirements for a component of fluorescent lights called ballasts and was first proposed by the European Commission in summer 1999 (ENDS Daily 30 June 1999).

Under the directive, member states must ensure that by May 2002, all ballasts comply with energy efficiency standards listed in the directive. A second set of even tougher standards will take effect in November 2005, five years after the law's entry-into-force.

The standards will gradually squeeze less efficient types of magnetic ballast out of the market, but will not require a complete switch-over to more efficient and also more expensive electronic types by 2005. However, following a progress report due in 2005, the Commission could propose a third phase of stricter requirements, which would certainly mean an end to magnetic ballasts.

Though the European Parliament initially pushed for all magnetic ballasts to be phased out by 2005 (ENDS Daily 21 January), it eventually dropped this demand (ENDS Daily 31 May). In return, EU governments conceded that, even before the scheduled 2005 progress review, should electronic ballasts not have taken at least 55% of the market then the Commission could make third-phase efficiency proposals.

Follow Up:
European Commission, tel: +32 2 299 1111. See also the full text of directive 2000/55/EC and associated declaration.

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