Brussels bureaucrats have quietly shelved plans to ban eco-unfriendly toasters and kettles amid concerns that it could drive the British people to vote for a British exit from the European Union (EU). The ban is part of a second wave of eco-design rules which two years ago saw high powered vacuum cleaners being taken off the market, causing outrage in the UK.
A senior EU official has admitted to the Financial Times that the delay has come about thanks to “the British obsession with water kettles”, while Claude Turmes, a Green MEP from Luxembourg who is working on the regulation, said he understood the delay was “linked to Brexit”.
Another official has told the Guardian: “Brexit is mentioned all the time, as you can imagine,” while Sylvie Feindt, the director of Digital Europe said she believed the decision to delay the eco-design rules has to do with broader political context and the referendum in Britain.”
She added: “The ecodesign regulations have been disputed and the commission has had bad press, and maybe they are particularly sensitive about this.”
UK Independence Party MEP David Coburn decried the plans, complaining via Twitter that his toaster is already woefully underpowered, later adding that, thanks to EU rules, toasters are only allowed to have “the power of one candle or something” and that he may be forced to make toast on an open fire in future if Britain remains within the EU.
My toaster takes 4 attempts before bread goes brown and can put. My Dundee marmalade on many thanks to EU
— David Coburn MEP (@DavidCoburnUKip) February 25, 2016
“Don’t you know about these EU toasters? They’ve turned them all down and that’s why you can’t get decent toast,” Mr Coburn lamented. “Mine’s on full boost and my bread’s all peely-wally, it’s awful. My old toaster seemed to be powered by the Torness nuclear reactor and this one is powered by some kind of EU windmill.”
Mr Turmes responded: “I’m a big fan of toasted bread with orange marmalade, and I can tell you as one of the legislators working on this that one of the last things I would want is the banning of toast. I want to create pressure on the industry to come up with toasters which are more efficient.”
The plans to downgrade toasters aren’t the only regulations to be quietly delayed. Other measures include a reform of VAT rules to scrap zero-rated goods including children’s clothing, potential state aid investigations into tax; progress on a review of the working-time directive; and a package on free movement that will include parts of Britain’s EU renegotiation.
Polish MEP Jan Olbrycht, a member of the EU’s budgets committee said: “They don’t want to open the Pandora’s box before the referendum”.