Sunday, 1 December 2019

Johnson's falling standards will hit UK manufacturers

Refusing to follow EU rules on energy efficiency standards will put UK manufacturers on the back foot, Andrew Warren warns. (Amongst other roles, Andrew is Chair of the EU Task Group on Sustainable Construction and Energy Efficiency).

He explains:

For the first three years following the Brexit referendum, every single indication from Theresa May's government was that both of these successful policies would be continued seamlessly even when the UK was no longer formally part of the EU. So UK product policy on energy usage would remain aligned with that in operation right across Europe - likely to remain UK manufacturers' largest single market.

This continuity would have ensured that the energy savings already achieved would remain for future years. And as new products continue to be added to the substantial list of those covered, the expectation had been that UK manufacturers operating in each sector would continue to make products that, at minimum, always complied with European standards.

It is now becoming clear that this is no longer the policy of any Johnson-led Government. [...]

At the end of October 2019, a big EU consultation forum was held in Brussels, under this same Eco Design Directive. This time dealing with water pumps. There are considerable UK manufacturing interests likely to be affected. Up until the last minute, it was feared that UK government officials would not be attending. Nobody officially would be able to put the case for British businesses. Options exist which could detrimentally affect such interests. After much strenuous lobbying from (unsurprisingly) the British Pump Manufacturers Association, a few days beforehand 10 Downing Street staff grudgingly approved the attendance of two civil servants from the Business Department. By that stage the zealots had conceded that any chance of achieving the declared departure date from the European Union before 2020 had evaporated. So at the eleventh hour these two civil servants were indeed given special permission to board the Brussels Eurostar, to help put across the arguments of British businesses to their opposite numbers from other governments. Leaving an empty chair may be portrayed by some as an overt gesture of true Brexit purity. Those operating in the real world might describe actually doing so as another pointless gesture that is truly a dereliction of duty by government. And a giant step back from ever achieving net zero carbon.

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