Thursday, 19 February 2009


Not being able to attend this week's meeting of Parliament's environment committee got me out of a dilemma.

Europe's prime ministers agreed last year to ban the sale of incandescent light bulbs from 2011. Their replacement by low energy, long life bulbs is a quick and easy way to reduce total energy consumption by a per cent or two. While these are not perfect in every situation I suspect that the manufacturers will quickly address many of the deficiencies as their market expands hugely.

On the environment committee agenda was a German-inspired motion to halt the ban. I don't know the motives of the movers but one argument would have been subsidiarity. A CO2 reduction target has been set for every member state and surely it is up to them to decide how best to meet it.

So which way to vote? In favour of an EU regulatory instrument (in this case a ban), which have a track record of successfully achieving their objectives, or in favour of the subsidiarity principle at the cost of upsetting environmentalists?

I think I would have registered a principled abstention. I wouldn't want to oppose an effective measure to combat global warming but as the individual targets have been agreed I think the EU should always try to avoid being over prescriptive.

But note how this ban came about in the first place. It wasn't Brussels bureaucrats trying to undermine national independence. It was the 27 prime ministers, seeking a quick headline, who agreed without dissent to introduce a tough new EU-wide measure.

By the way, the MEPs who were there threw out the proposal to reject the ban on incandescent light bulbs by a majority of 3 to 1.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Thank you very much for the posts from the's rather different to run of the mill politics for sure....

You make good point about the light bulbs, that we shouldn't just blame the Commission, clearly the member governments have(unfortunately in my view) signed up to the idea, even if the measure did seem to originate in the Orwell 1984 newspeak style named Commission "Ecodesign" committee..
CO2 emissions do vary widely, I can't get my head around why Sweden and France are signing up to this (yes, energy savings, but that can directly be addressed, and as for "kindly" allowing consumer savings for light bulbs they might well appreciate the light quality etc of, well, I guess I say it all on my website.
Anyway a direct comment to the Environment Committee decision you mention, is here
[I know a blog is more practical, might start one too, I wanted to try something different making a webpage out of the ideas I had!