In a seminal ruling delivered on 8 November by the General Court of the European Union, the energy label for vacuum cleaners, instituted under Regulation (EU) No 665/2013, has been annulled on the grounds of what are deemed ineffective and inaccurate EU energy use tests. The Court has found that testing with the dustbag or container empty is unreliable as many vacuums lose suction when they fill with dust, notwithstanding the European Commission's claims of the lack of a reproducible test using partially loaded vacuums that could be used instead.
The Court was satisfied that using an empty vacuum cleaner to calculate energy performance does not reflect conditions as close as possible to actual conditions of use, and does not comply with the essential elements of the energy label directive, which specifies reporting energy consumption during use.
The General Court has found, therefore, that the Commission disregarded an essential element of Directive 2010/30/EU, and annulled the regulation in its entirety since the method for calculating energy performance is not an element which may be severed from the remainder of the regulation.
It is now possible for the European Commission to appeal the judgment of the Court.
What does this mean for vacuum cleaner manufacturers?
Manufacturers would no longer be obliged to use the energy label on their vacuum cleaners if the Commission does not appeal the ruling. The Commission will now need to address the legislative lacuna created by the annulment in updating the energy label to include energy consumption testing with a loaded receptacle reflecting normal conditions of use, which coincides with its ongoing work on the rescaling of energy labels under the new EU Energy Labelling Framework Regulation (EU) 2017/1369.
The Judgment of the Court may be read in full here.