The EU’s energy commissioner has threatened politicians and journalists who campaign against his eco-policies, accusing them of stirring “anti-EU sentiment” and warning them that their opposition to his EU energy-savings directives will “not be taken lightly.”
Günther Oettinger, a German career politician who has been in charge of energy policy at the European Commission since 2010, yesterday circulated a letter to national energy ministers complaining that his so-called “eco-design” policies have been under attack in Britain and Germany, where politicians and journalists have been fighting EU interference in every domestic appliance from washing machines to televisions to ventilation systems.
Oettinger complained in a letter leaked to Euractiv: “Candidates and political parties have fulminated against the Union’s efforts to reduce the energy consumption of, for example, light bulbs, vacuum cleaners and coffee machines. We have seen similar attempts in the past, when national press has used these measures in a way that risks creating anti-European feelings amongst citizens.”
“This should not be taken lightly. Attempts at undermining ecodesign and energy labelling directly undermine our energy policy.”
Resistance to Oettinger’s policies has been notably strong in Britain, where EU directives have banned traditional light bulbs and forced their replacement with expensive eco-bulbs, which are considered to be both ugly and dim. Many people complain the eco-bulbs lead to head aches and eyestrain because they do not deliver the same quality of reading light as traditional incandescent bulbs.
In Germany, the new Alternative for Germany (AfD) party attacked eco-design measures in its successful campaign for the elections to the European Parliament last month, when it won seven seats.
What Oettinger plans to do to stop the campaigns against his eco-policies is not yet known. However, he has a history of vengeful behaviour against member states which do not meet the demands imposed by Brussels.
In the midst of the Euro crisis in 2011 he suggested that heavily-indebted member states be shamed by having their flags outside the commission flown at half-mast.
He was reported to have told German newspaper Bild that this would be a future deterrent to “deficit sinners” against reckless spending from member states. After outcries from eurozone countries struggling with the effects of belonging to the single currency, he retracted his suggestion.