Before you can begin selling a product in an EU country, it must comply with the rules that apply in that country and throughout the EU. Once the product has been approved for sale in one country, it can then in principle be sold anywhere in the EU. In practice, individual EU countries do retain the right, in certain cases, to restrict the access to their market of products already sold in another EU country.
Different rules must be followed at each step of the process of bringing a product to market: planning, manufacturing, importing (for products manufactured outside the EU), distribution and the final sale to consumers or end-users. Many potential actors are involved.
Explore the interactive content below to find out what each actor does and what their EU‑related obligations are.
Manufacturers or the authorised representatives
There are certain products that must comply with minimum requirements related to energy efficiency. These are called ecodesign requirements and the aim is to reduce the negative environmental impact throughout the product’s lifecycle.
Before you place this type of product on the EU market you must ensure that they comply with these rules.
The product types currently covered by these rules are those that use energy (boilers, computers, household appliances etc.). You can see the full list below:
Products that must meet ecodesign requirements
Domestic and service industry lighting products:
- Directional and non-directional lamps (including ultraviolet radiation)
- Fluorescent lamps (without integrated ballast)
- High-intensity discharge lamps
- Ballasts and luminaires able to operate such lamps
- Computers and servers
- Game consoles
- Simple/complex set-top boxes
- Standby for networked equipment
- Tumble dryers
- Washing machines
- Vacuum cleaners
Heating and cooling devices:
- Air conditioners
- Comfort fans
- Industrial fans
- Local space heaters
- Solid fuel local space heaters
- Solid fuel boilers
- Ventilation units
- Water heaters
- Electric motors
- Electric power consumption standby and off mode
- External power supplies
- Imagining equipment
- Power transformers
- Professional refrigeration
- Water pumps
If you want to read about product-specific ecodesign regulations you can see the links in the references section at the bottom of the page.
Types of requirements
There are two types of requirements foreseen in the Ecodesign Directive.
Specific requirements are when exact values are measured and a limit is given. For example, maximum energy consumption, or minimum quantities of recycled material to be used in production.
Generic requirements do not set limit values, but may require that:
- the product is ‘energy-efficient’ or ‘recyclable’
- you provide information on how to use and maintain the product, to minimise its environmental impact
- you perform a lifecycle analysis of the product to identify alternative design options and solutions for improvement
The introduction of new minimum requirements can result in a ban of all non-compliant products from being sold in EU countries. An example of this is incandescent lamps, which were gradually phased out from 2009.
Harmonised standards are rules that have been adopted by the European standardisation bodies (CENELEC and CEN).
The use of harmonised standards helps provide a presumption of conformity. This means that the products are presumed to comply with the requirements covered by implementing measures when tested using a harmonised standard.
Additional harmonised EU standards are gradually being produced to support the ecodesign measures adopted so far.