CFLs in the European Parliament

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Questions from MEPs and answers given by the European Commission

Source: www.europarl.europa.eu This is only the first step towards a more systematic review of the policy of the European Commission concerning light. More is in the pipeline. Everyone can take advantage of this compilation.

  1. Mercury content in CFLs and quality of LEDs
  2. MEP Country Party Date Subject Answer
    (Number of the question) Question
    John Stuart Agnew UK United Kingdom Independence Party 11 November 2010 Mercury toxicity Answer
    (E-9381/2010) Does the Commission agree with the description that mercury is ‘the most toxic non-radioactive metal on earth’?
    John Stuart Agnew UK United Kingdom Independence Party 11 November 2010 Mercury research Answer
    (E-9380/2010) Has the Commission researched or assessed sources of mercury pollution either current or prospective?
    John Stuart Agnew UK United Kingdom Independence Party 11 November 2010 Mercury studies Same answer
    (E-9379/2010) Has the Commission undertaken or caused to be undertaken any studies about possible increases in mercury pollution arising from making compact fluorescent lightbulbs which use mercury vapour compulsory from 2012?
    John Stuart Agnew UK United Kingdom Independence Party 11 November 2010 Mercury pollution Same answer
    (E-9378/2010) Does the Commission consider that there are likely to be any increases in mercury pollution arising from making compact fluorescent lightbulbs which use mercury vapour compulsory from 2012?
    John Stuart Agnew UK United Kingdom Independence Party 11 November 2010 Mercury mitigation Same answer
    (E-9377/2010) Has the Commission put in place or caused to be put in place any plans to mitigate any increases in mercury pollution arising from making compact fluorescent lightbulbs which use mercury vapour compulsory from 2012?
    John Stuart Agnew UK United Kingdom Independence Party 11 November 2010 Mercury reasoning Same answer
    (E-9376/2010) Does the Commission see any contradiction in its reasoning when it is concurrently prohibiting the use of mercury in barometers whilst making compact fluorescent lightbulbs which use mercury vapour compulsory from 2012?
    John Stuart Agnew UK United Kingdom Independence Party 11 November 2010 Mercury sources Same answer
    (E-9375/2010) Could the Commission explain the assessment of risk which causes it at the same time to ban the use of mercury in barometers whilst concurrently making compact fluorescent lightbulbs which use mercury vapour compulsory from 2012?
    Ivo Belet Belgium Christen-Democratisch & Vlaams 30 August 2012 Sale of LED lighting in the EU Answer
    (E-007742/2012) The LED (light-emitting diode) can play an important part in efforts to increase energy efficiency in the EU. LED bulbs are relatively economical, in addition to which they last longer and are less environmentally harmful than other types of bulb.

    However, a major problem is that many consumers are being deterred by the high purchase costs.

    In Europe, LED bulbs are considerably more expensive than in the United States, where in certain cases they cost less than half as much, being forced to compete with cheaper standard light bulbs, which may be sold until 2014.

    In addition, LED bulbs are being constantly improved and made more energy-efficient by their manufacturers. However, bulbs such as the, the 10A19/LPRIZE-PRO/2700-900 DIM 10/1 produced by Philips, which won the American lighting prize for the most energy-efficient bulb replacing the 60 watt standard light bulb, are not being marketed in Europe.

    In addition to the high purchase price, a survey held by the Commission revealed two additional obstacles: the unsatisfactory quality of certain LED products and insufficient consumer information.

    As a result, bulbs with exactly the same specifications are sometimes sold under different names or product numbers at different prices. There have also been cases of inaccurate or misleading product information. For example it appears that the light emitted by the Toshiba GU5.3 9W 25° LED bulb is not 470 lumens as indicated on the packaging but less than 300 lumens.

    1. Is the Commission aware of these specific problems and what measures does it intend to take in the immediate future to help resolve them?
    2. What measures does the Commission consider appropriate to encourage the sale of LED bulbs in the European Union?
    Dominique Bilde France Front National 27 March 2017 Dangers of blue light Answer
    (E-002074-17) European citizens spend an average of seven hours per day in front of a screen, not including using mobile telephones. For several years, LEDs (Light Emitting Diodes) have been sneaking into smartphones, televisions and computers. They consume little electricity and they emit a strong light.

    Yet a lot contain a significant portion of blue light which can pose health risks. Blue light is a risk factor for age-related macular degeneration (AMD). It causes sleep problems and disrupts sleep cycles and it can contribute to the development of cataracts. It is even more dangerous for young people, and those younger than 14 years old in particular, because the lens lets more blue light filter through.

    What measures can the Commission take with Member States to raise awareness of the risks of blue light and to initiate research into solutions for combating these dangers?

    Vito Bonsignore Italy Il Populo della Libertà 10 January 2013 Mercury exposure prevention measures - economic benefits and consumer protection Answer
    (E-000251/2013) Some 20 eminent research institutes have published the results of a study into the impact of excessive levels of mercury exposure on IQ, especially among children.

    The report, 'Economic benefits of methylmercury exposure control in Europe: Monetary value of neurotoxicity prevention', shows that across the EU more than 1.8 million children suffer exposure THAT exceeds the safety limits set by the EU itself. That is not all, however; the report reveals significant differences between countries, and indicates that the highest levels of exposure are found in the countries of southern Europe.

    Using statistical models and respected scientific literature, the research also reveals that the lowering of IQ caused by mercury exposure results in a 'loss of productivity and thus a lower earning potential', which can be quantified at around EUR 8 billion for the EU countries.

    In view of these results, I would ask the Commission:

    1. Does it intend to take the abovementioned report into consideration, with regard to specific programmes and measures, both from the point of view of public safety and in relation to the serious implications in terms of the growth and competitiveness of the EU economies?
    2. In particular, does it agree with the quantification of the economic benefit that could be achieved by removing the excessive exposure?
    3. What specific measures does it intend to take in this regard, in terms of environmental policy and of incentives for innovation in processes and food safety standards in the fishing industry?
    Jan Březina Czech Republic Křesťanská a demokratická unie - Československá strana lidová 15 October 2010 Conventional light bulb ban seen in the light of a new American study Answer
    (E-8356/2010) The European Union has set itself the target of cutting its overall energy consumption by 20 % by the year 2020. One of the means of achieving this was to be the replacement of conventional light bulbs by energy-saving bulbs. The conclusion of a study by American scientists publicised in the British magazine The Economist is, however, that in the longer term energy-saving bulbs will not cut energy consumption, but may on the contrary increase it. This thus confirms the so-called Jevons paradox: that innovations that produce energy savings result in the long run in higher energy use.
    • Is the Commission aware of the study referred to? What view does it take of its findings and what conclusions does it draw for the EU's current energy efficiency strategy involving a ban on the use of conventional light bulbs?
    • Does the Commission admit the possibility that the ban on conventional light bulbs and their replacement by energy-saving bulbs will not lead to a reduction in energy consumption in the EU?
    • Are longitudinal or cross-sectional data already available to indicate whether the ban on conventional light bulbs is leading to a cut in energy in energy consumption in the EU? If so, what conclusions can be drawn from these data?
    Alain Cadec France Union pour un Mouvement Populaire 24 January 2011 Suitability of new-generation light bulbs Answer
    (E-000262/2011) The regulations on ecodesign — Regulations (EC) No 244/2009 and No 245/2009 — provide for the progressive phasing out of incandescent light bulbs in favour of other products between 2009 and the end of 2012.

    Could the Commission provide the studies on which it based these legislative proposals? Could it also say if they are available to the public and, if so, where they can be obtained?

    A number of citizens have expressed justifiable concerns with regard to the wisdom of phasing out incandescent light bulbs, notably the following:

    • has the Commission taken account of the entire amount of energy consumed in producing and recycling new-generation light bulb?
    • what is the environmental impact of these light bulbs, which contain highly toxic heavy metals, and how are faulty and spent bulbs to be salvaged? What are the dangers of dumping bulbs without taking precautions? How can it be ensured that they are really being salvaged and reprocessed?
    • the white light given off by these new-generation light bulbs is supposedly less healthy than the yellow light of incandescent bulbs; has there been a study comparing the impact of these new bubs with that of previous generations?
    • new-generation bulbs reportedly give off far stronger electromagnetic emissions than incandescent bulbs.

    Is the Commission aware of this? If so could it explain why it has chosen to ignore these arguments?

    Is there a document available to the public giving, in layman’s terms, their benefit-risk profile and references of studies carried out, with details of their authors, their professions and the organisations to which they belong?

    When a decision of this magnitude is taken, is it not reasonable to disclose the facts and studies on which it was based and, more importantly, is it not also reasonable to provide a summary, updated each year, of the benefits sought and the results actually achieved?

    Jürgen Creutzmann Germany Freie Demokratische Partei 12 June 2012 Light bulbs in household appliances in the context of the Ecodesign Directive 2005/32/EC Answer
    (E-005847/2012) The implementation of the Ecodesign Directive is giving rise to a number of practical problems and questions. In the case of Regulations (EC) Nos 244/2009 and 245/2009 on household lighting systems, some manufacturers are unsure whether or not their products are affected. This problem is compounded by the fact that even national authorities are unwilling to offer legally binding information in some cases.

    While there is no disputing that light bulbs in refrigerators are not used for general lighting, this issue is less clear in the case of light bulbs in extractor hoods, for example, because these can be used to light the entire work area in a kitchen. In this particular case, therefore, the following questions arise that require legally binding answers:

    1. Do the incandescent light bulbs fitted in household appliances (such as refrigerators, extractor hoods and ovens) constitute general lighting systems to which the ecodesign requirements of Regulation (EC) No 245/2009 apply, or do the rules in fact differ for each individual product? Are the light bulbs fitted in extractor fans general lighting systems, or special lighting systems covered by a derogation?
    2. How does the Commission generally deal with such applicability issues in the context of the Ecodesign Directive? Have steps been taken to ensure that businesses can get legally binding answers from either national or European bodies?
    Chris Davies United Kingdom Liberal Democrats Party 1 March 2012 Eco-Design Directive Answer
    (E-002432/2012) Is the Commission able to demonstrate that the directive has led to improvements in the energy efficiency of products, and reduced operating costs for consumers, that go beyond what might have been expected in the normal course of technological development and the commercial meeting of public demand? If so, can the Commission provide examples by way of illustration?

    What, if any, negative impacts on European manufacturers or for consumers have resulted from the application of the directive?

    Does the Commission accept that the application of the directive has proven less extensive and slower than was envisaged when the legislation came into force, and that progress of late has slowed further?

    What is the Commission’s estimate of the potential for further benefits that could be realised within the next decade if the directive is applied with full vigour?

    What steps will the Commission take to speed up application of the directive, and does it intend to propose raising and extending the standards currently in force?

    Chris Davies United Kingdom Liberal Democrats Party 15 January 2008 Power factor of energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-6567/2007) Is the Commission satisfied that the reduced power factor of compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) when compared to incandescent light bulbs does not negate the energy saving made otherwise, and that the marketing of a CFL bulb for 13w of power is not undermined by the possibility that such bulbs in reality require more apparent power than their incandescent comparators?
    Marielle de Sarnez France Mouvement Démocrate 11 April 2011 Hazardous low-energy light bulbs Answer
    (E-003593/2011) Recent studies carried out by the Consumer Safety Commission (CSC) and the Environment and Energy Management Agency (ADEME) — two French bodies renowned for their expertise — have shown that low-energy light bulbs, which are to replace all light bulbs in Europe by 2012, bear considerable risks.

    The strong radio waves emitted by the bulbs mean that, in the higher frequency range, the permitted limit values (27 volts/metre) are exceeded in the immediate vicinity. The values only return to normal (about 0.2 V/m) at a distance of about one metre. This is a problem in the case of bedside and desk lamps.

    Another danger arises if the bulbs are broken since the glass tube contains a gas with a high mercury content (a toxic metal). Multiple precautions must therefore be taken to avoid any skin contact, or any inhalation of the gas.

    The bulbs are considered to be dangerous waste and should therefore be recycled separately or returned to the seller.

    Is the Commission aware of these studies?

    Does it intend to carry out further studies in order to confirm this disconcerting information?

    Should it not postpone the obligation to replace all light bulbs in 2012 until the claims made about the safety of low-energy light bulbs have been fully investigated?

    Sari Essayah Finland Suomen kristillisdemokraatit 25 October 2012 Destruction of used energy-saving lamps Answer
    (P-009769/2012) Traditional incandescent light bulbs are in the process of being completely replaced within the EU by energy-saving and LED lamps.

    Unlike incandescent bulbs, energy-saving lamps are hazardous waste that must not be disposed of together with household refuse. Because they contain mercury, they have to be taken to the WEEE collection points for waste electrical and electronic equipment or to hazardous waste collection points. Unless it is destroyed properly, a burnt-out energy-saving lamp causes an environmental problem, given that mercury is a toxic heavy metal.

    There is still much room for improvement as regards the destruction of energy-saving lamps. Despite the indications on the packaging, some consumers do not understand that energy-saving lamps must not be mixed in with normal unsorted waste, or else they do not know where to take used lamps. There are still too few collection points.

    When they break, the lamps become a health hazard and consequently need to be handled with great care. For that reason, containers cannot be very large or high, as badly packed lamps might otherwise break when they struck against each other.

    What will the Commission do to make EU citizens more fully aware that used energy-saving lamps have to be taken to the appropriate collection points? How will it ensure that properly designed collection points are set up in sufficient numbers?

    Julie Girling United Kingdom Conservative Party 14 September 2011 Safety of new energy-efficient light bulbs Answer
    (E-008174/2011) A number of my constituents have contacted me with concerns regarding the safety of new energy-efficient light bulbs.

    Does the Commission have any plans to conduct further testing on these light bulbs or does it have any concerns with the safety of these bulbs?

    Will there be any additional labelling requirements to highlight any potential health and safety concerns?

    Julie Girling United Kingdom Conservative Party 29 November 2010 RoHS exemptions review and end dates Answer
    (E-010305/2010) One of the goals of Directive 2002/95/EC on the restriction of the use of certain hazardous substances in electrical and electronic equipment(1) (RoHS) is zero exemptions. Over several years, the Commission undertook a review of all existing exemptions. For each of the exemptions, the world’s leading technical experts were gathered together on a regular basis in Europe to review substitution possibilities.

    Can the Commission clarify why, in spite of the recommendations by these experts to introduce specific end dates for all of the exemptions, the Commission proposed to the Member States no end dates on several of the exemptions?

    These recommendations have now entered into force across the EU. This has resulted in continuing legal uncertainty for industry and its supply chains; runs contrary to the original environmental objectives of the Directive; economically penalises companies who have proactively removed these substances, and serves as a disincentive for companies who have made efforts to comply with these dates. This also undermines the credibility of the process for any future substance restrictions.

    Julie Girling United Kingdom Conservative Party 14 March 2011 Exemptions from Restriction of Hazardous Substances (RoHS) Directive — follow-up Answer
    (E-002416/2011) I would like to thank the Commissioner for his response to my question. Having been personally involved in the RoHS recast negotiations on behalf of the ECR Group, I was aware of the fact that under the new directive all exemptions will have a specific end date, which is to be welcomed.

    In my original question, I was thinking in particular of Exemptions 7(b) and 15. During the review of the annex, the global industry and scientific experts recommended that the Commission introduce an end date of 1 July 2014 for both exemptions. Why did the Commission then propose no end date?

    Robert Goebbels Luxembourg Parti ouvrier socialiste luxembourgeois 1 April 2011 Improved incandescent bulbs Answer
    (E-003165/2011) In its answer my Written Question E-011070/2010 on the ‘Risks associated with energy-saving light bulbs’ (and a similar written question asked by Herbert Reul MEP, E-011180/2010), the Commission said that ‘mercury-free alternatives without any known health impacts, such as improved incandescent bulbs’ were already available today.
    1. What are these ‘improved incandescent bulbs’?
    2. Why does the Commission not take the initiative of promoting these ‘improved incandescent bulbs’, thus putting an end to the risk of mercury contamination by energy-saving lightbulbs?
    Robert Goebbels Luxembourg Parti ouvrier socialiste luxembourgeois 7 January 2011 Risks associated with energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-011070/2010) According to press reports, the German Federal Environment Agency has found, in breakage tests on supposedly environmentally-friendly ‘compact fluorescent light bulbs’, that, if the bulbs burst, mercury concentrations are released which are 20 times higher than the European guideline limit of 0.35 microgrammes per cubic metre.

    What conclusions does the Commission draw from this finding?

    Does the Commission have any plans to relax the ban on conventional, yet safe light bulbs until energy-saving light bulbs which do not contain toxic mercury come onto the market?

    Fiona Hall United Kingdom Liberal Democrats Party 22 February 2013 Research into the adverse health effects of blue/UV lighting and compact fluorescent lights Answer
    (E-001940/2013) In 2008, the Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) published a Scientific Opinion on Light Sensitivity which confirmed that some pre-existing conditions (epilepsy, migraine, retinal diseases, chronic actinic dermatitis and solar urticaria) could be exacerbated by flicker and/or UV/blue light. In addition to this, it concluded that not enough evidence existed to suggest that compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) could be a significant contributor to light-sensitive symptoms. In March 2012, the SCENIHR published a Scientific Opinion on the Health Effects of Artificial Light, which paid particular attention to skin-related photosensitivity.
    1. Since the 2008 SCENIHR opinion, has the Commission conducted or received any further evidence or research regarding the adverse health effects associated with flicker and/or UV/blue light, or CFLs?
    2. Does the Commission plan to conduct any further research into the adverse health effects of lighting in order to better determine what factors (e.g. wave length, lamp frequency, flicker rate, electromagnetic fields emitted, etc.) are responsible for aggravating symptoms for light-sensitive persons?
    3. Has any more research been found or carried out with particular regard to the relationship between artificial lighting and increased migraines?
    4. When does the Commission expect the SCENIHR to review the most recently available scientific evidence with regard to light sensitivity and the health effects of artificial light?
    Fiona Hall United Kingdom Liberal Democrats Party 25 February 2013 Protecting the public against the adverse effects of light pollution Answer
    (E-002038/2013) The 24-hour daily cycle of light and darkness forms the basis of natural functioning for all plants and animals, including humans. This circadian cycle allows organisms to anticipate and prepare for precise and regular environmental changes and is important for, among other things, regulating and coordinating internal metabolic processes.

    There is growing evidence that exposure to light at night disrupts the natural circadian cycle in a manner that has adverse impacts on health. Medical research has indicated that exposure to light at night increases the incidence of certain types of cancer, most notably breast cancer. Furthermore, circadian disruption potentially contributes to obesity and diabetes. Studies have also suggested that excessive artificial light exposure early in life may contribute to an increased risk of depression and other mood disorders in humans.

    Such studies include one on breast cancer by Stevens (PMID: 20336819), one on cancer in men by Kloog et al. (DOI: 10.1080/07420520802694020) and one on obesity by Reiter et al. (PMID: 21668294).

    Based on such research findings, a number of calls have been made for action to address the problem. For example, the American Medical Association has called for further study into the health risks of environmental exposure to light at night.

    What steps does the Commission intend to take to reduce the health risks posed by light pollution for EU citizens?

    Malgorzata Handzlik Poland Platforma Obywatelska 26 March 2010 Withdrawal of traditional light bulbs from the market Answer
    (E-1850/2010) The European Union has laid down new requirements concerning energy efficiency that have to be met by light bulbs produced in the EU from 1 September 2009. Traditional and halogen light bulbs will gradually be withdrawn from the market. The withdrawal of these light bulbs from the market has met with criticism and indignation from many consumers. They are to be replaced by, among other things, what are known as ‘energy-saving’ light bulbs, which are much more expensive than traditional light bulbs. Moreover, many experts point out that these light bulbs contain mercury and could be harmful to consumer health. The Commission itself refers to the many complaints that have been made about energy-saving light bulbs in the documents published on its website. I fear that the average consumer is not aware of the harmful and dangerous properties of such light bulbs. I would therefore ask:
    1. What steps the Commission intends to take to ensure that consumers are aware of the harmful and dangerous properties of energy-saving light bulbs when making their purchases?
    2. Does it not fear that, if European consumers are unable to purchase cheap light bulbs, they will instead turn to counterfeit ones which do not comply with the European standard and are more dangerous than traditional light bulbs?
    Marian Harkin Ireland - 18 September 2017 Energy-efficient incandescent light sources and light sensitivity Still no answer
    (E-005787-17) Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) have shown that by surrounding light bulb filaments with a special crystal structure in the glass, they can bounce back the energy normally lost in heat, while still allowing the light through. This new bulb design could reach efficiency levels of 40%, which is higher than the efficiency rate of LED or fluorescent bulbs.

    Has the Commission taken into account the latest research and development for energy-efficient incandescent light bulbs ahead of the 1 September 2018 phase-out?

    Would the Commission consider introducing a concrete exception for the manufacture of incandescent bulbs on a prescription basis?

    What other measures are being introduced to help the estimated 250 000 EU citizens who are exceptionally sensitive to UV/blue light to manage this situation?

    Marian Harkin Ireland - 24 August 2017 Potential risks to human health due to LEDs Still no answer
    (E-005276-17) In its response to Written Question E-002074/2017, the Commission stated that the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) is to provide a scientific opinion focusing on the potential risks to human health of LEDs. The Commission also affirmed that it would thoroughly review the opinion once it is published, and that it would consider any appropriate follow-up on the basis of its findings. In light of the fact that LEDs could constitute 90% of the market by 2020, can the Commission clarify whether any further research will be done on:
    1. Cumulative exposure over a 24-hour period;
    2. The reported effects of long-term, low-level exposure on age-related macular degeneration;
    3. The population groups which are sensitive to blue light and whose natural mechanisms for filtering it are diminished.

    Marian Harkin Ireland - 24 August 2017 Potential risks to human health due to LEDs Still no answer
    (E-005275-17) In its response to Written Question E-002074/2017, the Commission stated that the Scientific Committee on Health, Environmental and Emerging Risks (SCHEER) is to provide a scientific opinion focusing on the potential risks to human health of LEDs. The Commission also affirmed that it would thoroughly review the opinion once it is published and that it would consider any appropriate follow-up on the basis of its findings. In light of the fact that LEDs could constitute 90% of the market by 2020, can the Commission clarify whether any further research will be done on:
    1. High luminance, flicker, phantom array and stroboscopic effect;
    2. The impact on circadian systems in real life.

    Marian Harkin Ireland - 2 April 2009 Energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-2250/2009) Does Ecodesign Directive 2005/32/EC on the phasing out of incandescent light bulbs and switching to energy saving bulbs include the banning of the sale, importation and manufacture of these incandescent light-bulbs? If so, what will be the timeframe for the banning of the sale, manufacture and importation of these incandescent light bulbs into the EU?

    Has the Commission given any consideration to the fact that, with greater use of renewable energy, the consumption of energy by standard light bulbs will not be a serious problem?

    In setting the energy-efficient requirements for this new generation of light bulbs, will the Commission take into account the functionality of the light bulb from the consumer perspective, in particular taking into account people who have difficulty reading when using energy-efficient light bulbs? Did the Commission carry out an assessment of these new-generation light bulbs for those who have impaired vision?

    Regarding the recycling of all incandescent light bulbs which contain mercury vapour of typically 4 mg after they have been phased out, what measures have been put in place to ensure that this will be done in an environmentally safe way in each Member State?

    Satu Hassi Finland Vihreä liitto 11 March 2010 Consumer protection in connection with compact fluorescent lamps Answer
    (E-1482/2010) According to various assessments, including research published by the German consumers' magazine Öko-test (Öko-test, Jahrbuch: Bauen, Wohnen und Renovieren für 2010, 09/09) and also a test by the Finnish newspaper Aamulehti, there are many compact fluorescent lamps on the market which do not perform as well as promised on the packaging. In too many cases, the light which they emit is dimmer than promised and becomes dimmer still as the lamp ages. In a good many cases, the life of a CFL is far shorter than advertised on the packaging.

    In my view, the decision to gradually eliminate traditional incandescent light bulbs from the market was correct. But it is a problem if the performance of compact fluorescent lamps does not match the claims made on the packaging. As well as disappointing consumers, this damages the general reputation of all lamps which are more energy-efficient than incandescent light bulbs.

    1. What will the Commission do to ascertain which undertakings are particularly prone to making exaggerated claims in their marketing?
    2. Will the Commission take action to penalise these undertakings?
    Satu Hassi Finland Vihreä liitto 19 January 2009 Consumer protection in connection with compact fluorescent lamps Answer
    (E-0103/2009) The EU has decided to eliminate energy-wasting incandescent light bulbs, a decision which I welcome. In the next few years, the most relevant more energy-efficient option in most cases will be the compact fluorescent lamp (CFL), sales of which will grow substantially once the ban on the sale of incandescent light bulbs enters into force. However, there are two consumer protection problems with the CFLs currently on the market.

    Firstly, there is a tendency for the information provided on the packaging to exaggerate the power of the incandescent bulb which a CFL replaces. For example, it is claimed that an 11-watt CFL replaces a 60-watt incandescent bulb, whereas in reality a 12- or 15-watt CFL is generally required for this purpose. This problem could be solved by making it compulsory for the packagings of all light bulbs on sale to indicate luminescence in terms of lux rather than incandescent light bulb wattage equivalence.

    Secondly, the real life of a CFL is often shorter than the promised 5 000 hours. This problem could be solved by requiring a minimum guaranteed life to be indicated on every type of bulb, a replacement bulb of the same power rating being provided if a lamp ceased to work before the end of its guaranteed life.

    Is the Commission aware of these consumer protection problems associated with CFLs, and does it intend to take measures to solve them — either the measures I have proposed or alternative measures?

    Edit Herczog Hungary Magyar Szocialista Párt 5 July 2006 Fate of anti-dumping measures expiring on 20 July 2006 relating to the import of CFL light bulbs from China as provided for in Council Regulation (EC) No 1470/2001 Answer
    (P-3136/2006) In Council Regulation (EC) No 1470/2001, the European Community adopted anti-dumping measures to defend manufacturers of CFL light bulbs within the EU against competition from imports of Chinese products at dumping prices. Pursuant to Article 11 of Council Regulation (EC) No 384/96 on protection against dumped imports, the measures relating to CFL light bulbs may expire five years after their entry into force, i.e. on 20 July 2006.

    Hungary's industry supplies 20-25 % of European production of CFL bulbs (10 million bulbs), or some 5 % of total consumption on the European market. According to some European manufacturers, if the anti-dumping measures expire, Chinese CFL bulbs will be sold on the European market around 40 % cheaper than European products. This price differential would exceed the difference between the production costs in Europe and China and would therefore be unjustifiably large and indicative of dumping.

    In order to safeguard European jobs and European production, will the Commission, pursuant to Article 11(2) of Regulation (EC) No 384/96, initiate a review of the measures taken in Regulation (EC) No 1470/2001, and does it hold out the prospect of an extension of these measures?

    Jim Higgins Ireland Fine Gael Party 29 September 2010 CFL light bulbs Answer
    (E-7785/2010) The gradual increase in the sale of CFL light bulbs in the EU is an important environmental development, but the fact that they contain mercury makes them hazardous if disposed of directly to landfill. Is the Commission concerned that Member States are not doing enough to recycle CFL light bulbs?

    Does the Commission have any guidelines on recycling such light bulbs?

    Filiz Hakaeva Hyusmenova Bulgaria Movement for Rights and Freedoms 10 February 2012 Energy saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-001634/2012) In September 2012, the phase-out period for withdrawal of all ordinary light bulbs from the market expires, the goal being to replace them with energy saving ones. Even before the expiry of this period, the public has started to complain about the quality of some energy saving light bulbs, which has placed a burden on family budgets. Furthermore, there are doubts as to whether the targets which the EU is seeking to achieve through these measures are attainable.

    Does the Commission believe that additional measures could and should be taken to increase the effectiveness of the policy being pursued and ensure that consumer rights are protected? Does Commission envisage taking such measures and, if so, what form would these take?

    Liisa Jaakonsaari Finland Suomen Sosialidemokraattinen Puolue/Finlands Socialdemokratiska Parti 25 March 2010 Problems with low-energy light bulbs Answer
    (P-2051/2010) Low-energy light bulbs have been widely introduced in the EU in accordance with the objectives of the regulation requiring energy efficiency.

    However, problems have arisen with the use and recycling of such bulbs.

    Although the regulation in question lays down quality standards concerning the brightness and life of bulbs, many consumers have been disappointed, as many bulbs do not comply with the standards advertised. In some cases, bulbs light up too slowly and both their brightness and their life fall short of what is stated on the packaging.

    Problems have also arisen with the recycling of these bulbs. Especially in sparsely populated areas, it can be difficult to recycle them, as the nearest collection point for polluting waste is far away, which acts as a disincentive for delivering them there. As a result, many bulbs containing mercury may end up in the environment mixed with unsorted waste.

    Is the Commission aware of the problems and is it planning follow-up measures to solve the recycling problem? Could retailers not also be compelled by European law to take back toxic low-energy light bulbs in the same way as they take back used batteries, which are likewise toxic?

    Filip Kaczmarek Poland Platforma Obywatelska 15 March 2011 Dangerous LED advertising boards in Polish streets Answer
    (E-002383/2011) Researchers at the Poznań University of Technology have conducted a study into LED advertising boards, which give off a bright light. This type of advertising board, which is becoming increasingly common at roadsides, was found to be dangerous. Measurements of the luminance (surface brightness) of 18 LED advertising boards in Poznań showed them to be 10 times too bright. This is a problem throughout Poland. Although maximum luminance at night should be no higher than 400 candelas per square metre (cd/m2), after nightfall the LED advertising screens were measured at 4 000 cd/m2 and in some cases 8 000 cd/m2, meaning that they stand out so sharply against the night sky that they are dangerous to drivers. People driving past LED boards are dazzled by the light and, as a result, their awareness of their surroundings is impaired. The moving images and large amounts of information displayed on the screens are also a danger to drivers.

    Does the Commission intend to harmonise the rules governing this advertising medium, in view of the dangers it poses to both drivers and other road users?

    Syed Kamall United Kingdom Conservative Party 13 March 2009 Compact fluorescent lamp issues Answer
    (E-001617/2009) I have been contacted by constituents who are concerned about the environmental impact of the disposal of energy-saving light bulbs and the bulbs' impact on human health. Now that the Commission and EU Member States are committed to phasing out incandescent light bulbs, my constituents would be interested in any guidelines that have been issued for the safe disposal of energy-saving, compact fluorescent lamp (CFL) bulbs and acknowledgement of their possible detrimental effects on human health.

    Given the potential emission of hazardous fumes, including mercury vapour, if an energy-saving CFL bulb is broken, or simply expires,

    1. what are the regulations for the safe disposal of these energy-saving light bulbs that are broken?
    2. what are the regulations for the safe disposal of these energy-saving light bulbs that have expired?
    3. will my constituents be able to simply throw them in the dustbin, or can they be put in with glass for recycling?
    4. what extra costs will there be for citizens in disposing of these light bulbs?

      And concerning human health, does the Commission recognise that:

    5. CFL bulbs generate radio frequency radiation (RF3) as well as ultraviolet radiation (UV4), which that have been associated with adverse impacts on health in numerous scientific studies?
    6. many new compact fluorescent light bulbs, unlike tube fluorescent light bulbs, do not contain prismatic diffusers and hence people using CFL are exposed to UV radiation, to which those who have skin disorders may be especially sensitive?
    7. there is a growing number of people developing electro-hypersensitivity, a newly identified health risk that is exacerbated by CFL bulbs?
    8. In addition, could the Commission please confirm whether it is prepared to grant exceptions to its ban on incandescent light bulbs for health and/or safety reasons?
    Syed Kamall United Kingdom Conservative Party 3 December 2007 Energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-5947/2007) I have been contacted by a constituent who is concerned about the consideration being given to phasing out incandescent light bulbs in favour of energy-saving florescent light bulbs.

    He is concerned that fluorescent light bulbs can very badly affect individuals who have heath conditions which produce light sensitivity.

    My constituent’s wife is a mild lupus sufferer and has always struggled with light sensitivity; this makes some shopping difficult where the shop has fluorescent bulbs, but is manageable given that fluorescent bulbs are not yet in universal use.

    Please could the Commission clarify:

    1. whether it is still considering a ban on incandescent light bulbs?
    2. if the concerns of all consumers (such as the consumer above) have been taken into account in debating a potential ban on incandescent light bulbs?
    3. how, if the ban does eventually come to pass, individuals with light sensitivity will be catered for?
    4. whether a ban would have implications as regards discrimination against the disabled?
    Syed Kamall United Kingdom Conservative Party 1 June 2007 Energy-saving light bulbs Answer

    (E-2793/2007)

    1. Does the Commission intend to enforce widespread implementation of the energy-saving light bulb as advocated by Written Declaration 0029/2007?
    2. Does the Commission intend to ban the use of energy-saving light bulbs which contain mercury?
    3. Is the Commission aware of the existence of the European retail market in energy-saving light bulbs which do not contain mercury?
    4. What steps is the Commission proposing to prevent mercury vapour from energy-saving light bulbs from entering the food chain via landfill sites or by other means?
    5. Does the Commission have any plans to ban fragile household objects containing mercury, other than measuring instruments containing mercury?
    Silvana Koch-Merin Germany Freie Demokratische Partei 16 February 2011 Energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (H-000084/2011) Is the Commission aware of the study by the German Federal Environment Agency, according to which energy-saving light bulbs pose a risk of causing poisoning, because of the mercury contained in them, if they break in the domestic environment? What conclusions does the Commission draw from this study?

    Is the Commission prepared to reconsider its decision to withdraw conventional light bulbs from the market?

    Is the Commission prepared to suspend the ban on conventional light bulbs, at least for private households?

    Silvana Koch-Merin Germany Freie Demokratische Partei 15 January 2009 EU ban on incandescent light bulbs Answer
    (P-0146/2009) The European Commission intends to introduce a stage-by-stage ban on the use of incandescent light bulbs. In so doing, it seems to be suggesting that EU citizens are incapable of managing their own affairs: their personal freedom is being restricted and they can no longer take responsibility for their own purchasing decisions, since the EU is telling them what they may or may not buy.
    1. What benefits does the European Commission hope that the ban on the use of incandescent light bulbs will bring?
    2. Does the European Commission regard the ban as consistent with the subsidiarity principle? Why?
    3. Is the European Commission aware of findings concerning erroneous claims by manufacturers as to the actual savings achieved through the use of energy-saving light bulbs, the low level of illumination they offer, which diminishes even further with use, and their sensitivity to frequent switching on and off?
    4. What findings can the European Commission point to concerning the ecological benefits of using energy-saving light bulbs as compared with incandescent light bulbs, also taking account of waste management problems, and concerning the climate-related benefits, taking account of the impact of production and transport within the EU?
    5. Can the European Commission point to findings which make clear whether, given their lower electricity consumption, the use of energy-saving light bulbs leads to changes in consumer behaviour, i.e. that such light bulbs are more frequently left on for long periods, not least because frequent switching on and off may reduce their life expectancy?
    6. What view does the European Commission take of studies which claim that people living in rooms fitted with energy-saving light bulbs heat those rooms to a temperature two to three degrees higher than they would do otherwise, and is it aware of the volume of additional CO2 emissions which this phenomenon may generate?
    7. What view does the European Commission take of the problem which may arise involving the increased and still growing contamination of refuse with mercury, as a result of the improper disposal of energy-saving light bulbs with general household waste in the EU, and what measures can be taken to counter this problem?
    8. What proportions of the light bulbs fitted in the buildings used by the European Commission are currently accounted for by energy-saving light bulbs and incandescent light bulbs respectively?
    Eija-Riitta Korhola Finland Kansallinen Kokoomus 4 November 2009 Follow-up question to Question E-2255/09 concerning the Incandescent Lamp Directive Answer
    (E-5429/2009) The reply given by Commissioner Andris Piebalgs on behalf of the Commission did not fully answer my Question E-2255/09 concerning the Incandescent Lamp Directive, particularly the effectiveness of the directive in reducing overall emissions. In the reply the Commission states that during the preparation of the directive no significant issue was raised about varying impacts of using certain lighting technologies from one region to the other and that, because product requirements and functionalities are the same everywhere, a separate impact assessment for each and every Member State was not carried out. The Commission also recommends consulting its answer to Question E-1090/09 by Ashley Mote. In its answer to Question E-1090/09, the Commission indicates that incandescent lamps are not an efficient way to regulate indoor temperature, that their location on the ceiling is inefficient, that heating is unnecessary in the summer period and may even result in increased cooling needs, and that not all rooms needing lighting need also heating.

    However, various research projects by the Finnish University of Technology show that in practice all the energy used by incandescent lamps contributes to the heating of the home. Heat produced by incandescent lamps has to be replaced with heating and if the heating uses fossil fuels, the carbon footprint increases. The lower the wattage of the lamp used to replace an incandescent lamp, the greater the need for additional heating. Research shows that if heating uses oil, replacing lamps increases oil consumption. Similarly, if electricity is used for heating, just as much electricity is used after lamps have been changed as before, because electrical radiators use more. In the case of combined heat and power, the decisive factor is how the electricity and heat are produced. In urban areas in Finland, they often come from the same power station. Changing lamps reduces electricity but increases heat [consumption]. This being so, it is the type of heating that determines the carbon footprint.

    In view of the current ways in which electricity and heat energy can be produced in the EU, and the forms of energy in use, does the Commission consider that the sale of incandescent lamps has been banned too soon everywhere in Europe? Does the Commission consider that the product is not in fact used in the same way everywhere, bearing in mind that in practice heating is needed the whole year round in the Nordic countries?

    Eija-Riitta Korhola Finland Kansallinen Kokoomus 1 April 2009 Incandescent Lamp Directive Answer
    (E-2255/2009) The Commission’s ‘Incandescent Lamp Directive’, whereby a watts per lumen limit (that is to say, an energy efficiency requirement) is to be laid down for light bulbs, has prompted much debate in Finland, with arguments being put forward for and against the directive. The advocates say that withdrawing the worst electricity-guzzling bulbs from sale will, reduce electricity consumption in the EU area by an estimated 40 terawatt-hours a year; carbon dioxide emissions will fall by 15 billion (15 000 million) tonnes; and it has also been calculated that consumers’ annual electricity bills will be EUR 5-10 billion lower: that being the case, the advantages are undeniable. Those who oppose the directive, however, are wondering — rightly — about the extent to which reduced heat from, say, lighting energy might translate into higher heating energy consumption in northern Member States. They maintain that incandescent lamps and enhancing the energy savings achievable by other appliances cannot be lumped together in the same discussion from a climate protection perspective, given that reducing energy in stand-by mode, increasing the energy efficiency of domestic appliances, especially refrigeration equipment, and similar measures invariably lower emissions as well and hence constitute environmental action, whereas swapping incandescent lamps for energy-saving light bulbs is not certain to reduce emissions across the board. The question that they are asking is whether energy consumption will in fact be lowered, bearing in mind that incandescent lamps also generate heat, and that would have to be replaced by other means.

    Is the Commission sure that the calculated total saving in emissions will really be as great as has been claimed? If, in practice, the saving falls short of expectations, does the Commission have a ‘Plan B’ to dispel possible adverse effects of the mandatory directive? Does it have watertight evidence that getting rid of light bulbs will enable emission volumes to be reduced in proportion to the quantity of energy used for lighting? Can the Commission say why the directive has not laid down rules on a country-by-country basis and has thus failed to allow for the fact that the benefits of using incandescent lamps may vary from one region to the next? To what extent, according to the Commission’s calculations, will the Incandescent Lamp Directive increase oil-fired heating energy requirements in Finland, and what will be the impact in terms of emissions?

    Holger Krahmer Germany Freie Demokratische Partei 13 April 2011 Expanding the reopened public consultation as regards the reprotoxic effects of gallium arsenide under the CLP-Regulation Answer
    (P-003731/2011) On 25 May 2010, the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) decided on the French proposal for a harmonised classification of gallium arsenide (GaAs) under the CLP Regulation 1272/2008. The RAC suggested that the Commission classify GaAs as carcinogenic Category cA (H350) and reprotoxic Category cB (H360F). In contrast, France had proposed a classification as carcinogenic Category c (H351).

    GaAs is mainly used in the semiconductor industry and is of outstanding strategic importance for numerous key technologies (KETs), e.g. broadband mobile communication and optoelectronics (laser diodes, mobile phones, radar systems, etc.).

    On 30 November 2010, the industry submitted its dossier for a pro-active early registration of GaAs (the production volume of GaAs is far below the trigger limit for REACH registration in 2010). According to this dossier, there is no sufficient evidence of any carcinogenic or reprotoxic effect of GaAs.

    On 11 March 2011, ECHA re-opened the public consultation on the classification of GaAs, limiting this to the carcinogenicity aspect and the read-across approach applied by the RAC. Based on the information and comments received, the RAC will adopt an updated opinion on the classification, as necessary.

    The industry in question has expressed grave concerns about the scientific justification for the RAC’s classification proposal. These concerns are not restricted to the carcinogenicity aspect and the way the read-across method is applied, but extend to the classification of GaAs as reprotoxic.

    The consequences of the proposed classification of GaAs as carcinogenic and reprotoxic are potentially substantial for the industry concerned. It could be basis for the possible inclusion of GaAs in the candidate list of the REACH-Regulation (Art. 59 (2), second sentence) and could influence an evaluation of GaAs under the RoHS Directive 2002/95/EC, the CMD Directive (Carcinogens and Mutagens Directive) 2004/37/EC or the CAD Directive (Chemical Agents Directive) 98/24/EC.

    1. Does the Commission know of any of the industry’s concerns and arguments regarding the classification of GaAs as reprotoxic Category cB?
    2. In view of these concerns and arguments, does the Commission judge it necessary to expand the scope of the re-opened public consultation for the classification of GaAs to cover reprotoxicity? Are there any reasons not to expand the scope, and if so, which?
    3. How does the Commission assess the concerns of the industry that the classification procedure for GaAs calls into question the credibility of REACH and of the ECHA processes on harmonised classification in general?
    Holger Krahmer Germany Freie Demokratische Partei 4 November 2010 Classification of gallium arsenide under REACH Regulation and RoHS Directive influencing the competitive standing of EU industry Answer
    (P-9251/2010) On 25 May 2010, the Risk Assessment Committee (RAC) of the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) decided on France’s proposal for a harmonised classification of gallium arsenide (GaAs) under the CLP Regulation. The RAC recommended that the Commission should come to a more stringent classification than initially proposed by France. The industry concerned has expressed doubts as to whether this more stringent classification is scientifically sound.

    GaAs is mainly used in the semiconductor industry and is of outstanding strategic importance for numerous key technologies (KETs), e.g. broadband mobile communication and optoelectronics (light-emitting and laser diodes, mobile phones, cars, aeroplanes, laptops and radar systems). Equivalent alternatives are not available.

    The use and disposal of GaAs are ruled by law. The industry already takes environmental protection and health requirements into account in the use of GaAs.

    The industry concerned now fears that on the basis of the more stringent classification GaAs might further be subjected to an authorisation requirement, restrictions, and bans under the REACH Regulation and the RoHS Directive 2002/95/EC, which might place the semiconductor industry of the EU at a substantial competitive disadvantage compared with non-EU countries. Furthermore it fears that the more stringent classification might have pre-impacts (e. g. resulting in reserved investments by banks and customer prejudices).

    • Is the Commission aware of the doubts and arguments of the industry concerned regarding the more stringent classification of GaAs? If so, what does the Commission know about the semiconductor industry's concerns about restrictions of GaAs under the REACH Regulation and a substance ban under the RoHS Directive?
    • How does the Commission assess the pre-impacts and impacts of a potential restriction of GaAs on the competitive standing of the EU industry concerned?
    • Does the Commission share the position that there is no alternative to GaAs in certain fields of the semiconductor industry — such as in high-frequency technology?
    • What would be the impact of this lack of alternative on a decision about an authorisation requirement, restrictions, or a substance ban?
    Holger Krahmer Germany Freie Demokratische Partei 7 September 2009 Abolition of conventional light bulbs Answer
    (E-4225/2009) On 15 May the Austrian news agency APA indirectly quoted a statement by Commissioner Meglena Kuneva on the abolition of conventional light bulbs: ‘Nevertheless, Ms Kuneva presented her viewpoint on the emotional debate being conducted in this country on the replacement of conventional light bulbs by energy-saving light bulbs. To sum up, the politician asked for patience to be shown, as the discussion process was far from over.’
    1. What does Commissioner Kuneva mean by this statement against the background of the timescale for the ‘phasing out’ of conventional light bulbs from trade (cf. Commission Regulation (EC) No 244/2009)?
    2. In the face of persistent criticism by citizens and the media, is Commissioner Kuneva considering an amendment to the comitology decision?
    3. Which interested parties (companies, associations, non-governmental organisations) were involved at least informally in the decision within the framework of the comitology procedure?
    Jörg Leichtfried Austria Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs 29 November 2012 Mercury in energy-saving light bulbs Answer not yet available
    (E-010867/2012) A written question on the issue of energy-saving light bulbs was already addressed to the Commission on 31 August 2011. The focus then was on the ban on 60-watt light bulbs that came into force on 1 September 2011, the price rise for energy-saving light bulbs and the health and safety issue of the mercury content of compact fluorescent lamps and its potential risks for consumers. The Commission's answer of 29 September 2011 was regrettably unsatisfactory as far as the mercury risk was concerned. But the Commission did state that it was issuing a mandate to SCHER to look into this matter and that an opinion was to be delivered to it by December 2011.
    1. Has the SCHER opinion been delivered and if so, what are its key findings?
    2. Does the new Commissioner for health policy, Tonio Borg, intend to make any changes as far as the ban on incandescent light bulbs is concerned?
    3. If so, what proposals or actions are planned?
    Jörg Leichtfried Austria Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs 9 September 2011 Price increase in energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (P-008064/2011) Just as the ban on 60 watt light bulbs came into force on 1 September 2011, lighting manufacturer Osram also increased its prices for energy-saving light bulbs. The reason given for the huge price increase was a price rise in rare earth metals, which are required as a raw material.
    1. In the Commission's view, can free competition for energy-saving light bulbs in Europe be guaranteed?
    2. Given that the Commission has made energy-saving light bulbs compulsory, does it intend to take steps to ensure that they remain at a reasonable price in line with standard market prices?
    3. In response to an oral question at the plenary session of Parliament in Strasbourg in March, the Commissioner for energy, Günther Oettinger, announced that there would be an investigation into the potential health risks to children posed by energy-saving light bulbs. When are the results likely to appear?
    4. Does the Commission intend to revise the light bulbs regulation, which has sparked controversy throughout the EU?
    Jörg Leichtfried Austria Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs 16 February 2011 Energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (H-000083/2011) Is the Council aware of the study by the German Federal Environment Agency, according to which energy-saving light bulbs pose a risk of causing poisoning, because of the mercury contained in them, if they break in the domestic environment? What conclusions does the Council draw from this study?

    Is the Council prepared to reconsider its decision to withdraw conventional light bulbs from the market?

    What does the Council think of the idea of suspending the ban on conventional light bulbs, at least for private households?

    Jörg Leichtfried Austria Sozialdemokratische Partei Österreichs 27 July 2009 Mercury poisoning due to the import of energy-efficient light bulbs Answer
    (E-3802/2009) The ban on conventional light bulbs, a Commission initiative which will initially result in the phasing-out of 100-watt bulbs as of September 2009, has led to a surge in the production of energy-efficient light bulbs.

    This is increasingly endangering the health of Chinese workers and polluting the environment. Hundreds of workers have suffered mercury poisoning and rivers have reportedly been contaminated by poisonous waste water (source: The Sunday Times).

    Medical tests carried out on several hundred light bulb factory workers in cities including Foshan and Guangzhou have revealed high levels of mercury in their blood and urine.

    Old mercury mines in the province of Guizhou are a further source of problems. Environmentally damaging mining methods had poisoned farmland and rivers to such an extent that a number of years ago the authorities were compelled to order the closure of the mines. Owing to the rising demand for mercury for energy-saving bulbs, several of the old mines have reportedly been reopened.

    1. Is the Commission aware of this deplorable state of affairs?
    2. In future, will the Commission check compliance with workers' health and environmental protection standards in the production of imported energy-efficient light bulbs?
    3. If there are no plans to do this, how else does the Commission intend to deal with these unacceptable practices?
    Petru Constantin Luhan Romania Partidul Democrat-Liberal 20 July 2012 Energy-saving bulbs Answer
    (E-007335/2012) 25- and 40-watt light bulbs are to be taken out of circulation in September 2012 and gradually replaced by energy-saving bulbs.

    However, more and more articles are appearing about the ‘triple threat’ of such energy-saving bulbs to health: toxic mercury, ultraviolet radiation and electromagnetic fields. A German study has found that they emit cancer-causing chemicals when switched on.

    Is the Commission aware of these risks, which have been outlined in many health studies, and what is its response?

    David Martin United Kingdom Labour Party 10 May 2012 EU citizens who need incandescent light bulbs for health reasons Answer
    (E-004836/2012) The Standing Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCEHNIR) stated in its report of 19 March 2012 on ‘Health Effects of Artificial Light’ that some EU citizens are exceptionally sensitive to UV/blue light exposure. The report adds that more research is needed to examine the serious concerns raised by patient groups regarding the safety of all currently available forms of low energy lighting. A paper is now about to be published in a peer-reviewed journal refuting a part of the evidence on which the committee relied when claiming that energy saving bulbs are safe to use.

    In the UK, the Spectrum Alliance of charities and support groups estimates that the number of citizens affected is 2 million in the UK alone. It believes that the high level of blue light and the spectral distribution of low energy lights may form the main cause of many of the problems. This would make it impossible for any of the current forms of low-energy lighting to meet the health requirements of those affected. There are other potential causes, such as high-frequency flicker and radio frequency emissions, that have not as yet been fully researched. The same source adds that it has often been suggested that envelope CFLs or LEDs may be a suitable substitute. A double envelope only delays the inevitable effects. LED lighting, although an improvement on CFLs, has both an erratic spectral pattern and a high level of blue light. LEDs also have various issues related to radio frequency emission and high frequency flicker. This is true of the latest soft white LEDs experimented with in September 2011.

    1. In view of the SCENIHR report published in March 2012 acknowledging that there are major gaps in research on the health effects of low energy lighting, will the Commission work to create an exemption from the ban on incandescent lighting for those with specific medical needs?
    2. What representations has the UK Government made to the Commission on obtaining such an exemption?
    David Martin United Kingdom Labour Party 10 May 2012 Proven effectiveness of Commission Regulation (EC) No 245/2009 implementing ecodesign requirements for non-directional household lamps Answer
    (E-004763/2012) The following statement was made on 8 December 2008 (IP/08/1909) on behalf of the Commissioner for Energy, Andreas Piebalgs.

    'At today’s meeting of the Ecodesign Regulatory Committee, EU Member States experts endorsed the European Commission’s proposals for a regulation progressively phasing out incandescent bulbs starting in 2009 and finishing at the end of 2012. By enforcing the regulation of switching to energy saving bulbs, EU citizens will save close to 40 TWh (roughly the electricity consumption of Romania, or of 11 million European households, or the equivalent of the yearly output of 10 power stations of 500 megawatts) and will lead to a reduction of about 15 million tons of CO2 emission per year.'

    This regulation has raised criticism from EU citizens and organisations regarding the hazards of mercury waste, adverse medical impacts on a significant minority of the population and much higher costs to households in replacing lamps. These criticisms need to be addressed by providing positive proof that the goals in energy saving and reduction of CO2 emissions have been achieved by this regulation.

    The speed of implementation of this regulation was declared to be a key factor in achieving the claimed benefits. The first two stages of this legislation have been in force for over a year. Proof of the effectiveness of the regulation is essential ahead of the review required in 2013 with a view to amending the regulation in 2014.

    1. What monitoring has taken place to measure the effectiveness of this regulation in achieving its objectives?
    2. What proof is there that the expected reduction in energy use attributable to this regulation is now being achieved?
    Morten Messerschmidt Denmark Dansk Folkeparti 24 November 2009 Low-energy light bulbs Answer
    (E-5788/2009) Low-energy light bulbs are a laudable innovation, as they use significantly less electricity than conventional light bulbs.

    Low-energy light bulbs contain mercury. All used low-energy light bulbs should therefore be taken as hazardous waste to recycling facilities, where there should be special containers for these light bulbs. Ordinary light bulbs can be thrown out with the normal household waste. Consumers have got into the habit of doing this and the fear is that they will now follow the same procedure for low-energy bulbs.

    It is important to distinguish between low-energy light bulbs and LED bulbs, as the concerns here relate only to low-energy bulbs.

    Can the Commission say if there is any research that shows how large a proportion of low-energy light bulbs are disposed of correctly as hazardous waste and how many are simply thrown out, thereby presenting a threat to the environment?

    Can he Commission also outline the health risks and environmental consequences of European consumers failing to take their used low-energy light bulbs to recycling facilities?

    Andreas Mölzer Austria Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs 10 June 2010 Lifespan of energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-4077/2010) The durability and energy efficiency of energy-saving light bulbs, which is the main reason for the partial EU ban on incandescent light bulbs, are supposed to justify their comparatively high purchase cost. A test conducted by the German consumer organisation, Stiftung Warentest, has now revealed that energy-saving light bulbs do not live up to initial expectations. Contrary to manufacturers’ claims that these bulbs have a lifespan of between 10 000 and 15 000 hours, the majority of those tested stopped working after 6 000 hours, and some after as little as 1 400 hours.

    The problem with these light bulbs is that they contain mercury, which poses a risk to health and means that these supposedly environmentally-friendly bulbs have to be disposed of as hazardous waste. The length of time it takes for an energy-saving light bulb to reach full brilliance is a nuisance. This makes them unsuitable for cellar, outdoor or storeroom lighting because, since people are left waiting in near darkness for the energy-saving light bulb to provide adequate lighting. Some of the light bulbs tested took up to four minutes to reach 80 % of their full brilliance; the tests also indicated that branded light bulbs offered no quality guarantee.

    The harsh light emitted by energy-saving light bulbs distorts colours, so that rooms lose their cosy, warm atmosphere. What is more, energy-saving light bulbs emit volatile gases that are classified as harmless on the basis of short-term exposure but their long-term effects are seemingly unknown. Care should be taken, therefore, when installing them in bedrooms, etc.

    How does the Commission view the suggestion that an energy-saving light bulb requires more energy than an incandescent light bulb to reach its full lighting brilliance?

    To what extent will the results of the study referred to above affect the ban on incandescent light bulbs?

    Are there any studies available on the long-term effects of volatile gases, or are any such studies planned?

    What is the Commission’s position on the suggestion by experts that energy-saving light bulbs will soon be replaced by light-emitting diodes (LEDs)?

    Andreas Mölzer Austria Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs 10 June 2010 Disposing of energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-4076/2010) Energy-saving light bulbs, which are supposedly so environmentally friendly, contain dangerous heavy metals, including mercury. Not only is it a problem when such bulbs shatter, but careless disposal is also causing pollution.

    Only one in ten German households disposes of these bulbs properly, as hazardous waste. In Germany alone, around 80 million used energy-saving light bulbs end up in the normal waste bin. People living in rural areas, in particular, find it inconvenient to make the 10-kilometre or more journey to the nearest collection point. The most consumer-friendly approach would be to allow consumers to return broken energy-saving light bulbs to the shops where they bought them, as is sometimes the case for batteries.

    1. To what extent did the predictably poor disposal habits influence the decision to introduce a partial ban on incandescent light bulbs?
    2. What steps will be taken in the Member States to deal with the pollution caused by the incorrect disposal of energy-saving light bulbs?
    3. Are there any plans for the mandatory withdrawal of energy-saving light bulbs at EU or at national level?
    Ashley Mote United Kingdom Independent (MEP until 2009) 23 February 2009 The compact fluorescent light (CFL) mercury problem Answer
    (E-1088/2009) Is it not the case that the introduction of CFL bulbs into everyone's home also introduces one of the most dangerous chemicals on Earth? They contain mercury, which the EU has otherwise banned as highly toxic. Does the Commission not understand that they unnecessarily bring into every home in the land serious health risks and disposal problems?

    Does the Commission approve of the almost cretinous official guidance on what to do if a CFL bulb breaks, viz. leave the room immediately and not return for at least 20 minutes, wear thick gloves to clear up, dispose of the gloves carefully afterwards and do not vacuum up the pieces?

    How, exactly, is anyone to remove pieces of glass from a deep-pile carpet without using a vacuum cleaner?

    Since the EU’s banning of the use of mercury in many industrial processes has had serious commercial consequences, and forced the closure of some specialist businesses altogether, surely it makes no sense if mercury is now to be used in every light bulb in every home, office and public building in the UK?

    Ashley Mote United Kingdom Independent (MEP until 2009) 23 February 2009 Compact fluorescent light (CFL) bulb decision makes no sense Answer
    (E-1090/2009) Since the world's consumption of energy for all lighting needs totals less than two per cent of all energy consumption, why is the Commission attaching so much importance to the introduction of CFL bulbs?

    Why is the EU demanding that Britain throw away a lighting technology which is tried-and-tested, safe and silent, and delivers what is needed: good light at full strength at the flick of a switch? Why are Britons being told (not asked) to replace it with an alternative which is clumsier, more expensive, does not work as well, makes some people ill and could do more environmental harm than good?

    Does the Commission not know that one of the side benefits of the present range of bulbs is the heat they generate (as much as 95 %), which reduces the need for other forms of heating? That heat will be l ost by switching to CFL bulbs. It will have to be made up by the increased use of central heating, for example, or electric fires. That in turn will place a higher demand for energy on power stations. Is the Commission aware that even the British Government admits that the total hoped-for saving would be equivalent to the output of a single small coal-fired power station?

    Indeed, does the Commission understand that, assuming it matters, the carbon footprint of CFL bulbs is higher because they contain complex chemicals and electronics which ordinary bulbs do not? They generate more carbon in the manufacturing process and disposal at the end of their working life is more environmentally and industrially expensive.

    Finally, why the headlong rush to force CFL bulbs on the British people when the much better alternative of LED lights is only a few years away? Since they will be substantially cheaper and more cost-efficient, will involve no health or safety hazards, and will almost certainly be more acceptable to the public, why not wait?

    Ashley Mote United Kingdom Independent (MEP until 2009) 23 February 2009 Compact fluorescent light (CFL) risks to care homes Answer
    (E-1091/2009) What does the Commission say to managers of care homes in the UK, who are already obliged by law to provide adequate lighting, especially in areas where problems of mobility arise, when CFL bulbs are forced on them?

    Will they not then be breaking EU health and safety regulations if a CFL bulb, when turned on, fails to provide immediately the light required to meet minimum legal standards?

    Many of these care homes are large, old houses converted for multiple occupancy care purposes. They have old and special light fittings which cannot easily be changed, and should not be changed if the level of lighting is thus reduced. Are they expected to incur substantial expense to install entirely new electrical circuits, possibly involving structural alterations, to accommodate CFL bulbs?

    Cristiana Muscardini Italy Futuro e Libertá per l'Italia 12 November 2009 Mercury: another source of air pollution Answer
    (E-5568/2009) In July the Commission decided to join forces with the Institute for Atmospheric Pollution, attached to the Italian National Research Council (CNR) in Rome, on the Global Earth Observations (GEO) project to monitor mercury concentrations in the atmosphere by developing a global network of observation stations. A document prohibiting mercury exports from Europe and the United States is also being drawn up in order to combat the problem of mercury pollution, which is becoming particularly acute in developing countries such as China and India. In addition, a programme has apparently been implemented with a view to eliminating all the mercury found in many everyday products (such as thermometers), as well as that used in the production of caustic soda, from the European market by 2011.

    Can the Commission state:

    1. what information emerged from the discussion of the GEO project?
    2. whether building work on the project’s 20 primary and 20 secondary observation posts has been completed?
    3. what stage has been reached in drafting the document prohibiting mercury exports from Europe, and whether the European programme to eliminate the toxic metal completely is still in progress?
    Rareş-Lucian Niculescu Romania Partidul Democrat-Liberal 20 December 2010 Energy-efficient light bulbs Answer
    (E-010732/2010) During the Climate Change Conference in Cancun, Mexico, the UN presented a report calling on all the countries of the world to follow the example set by the European Union and replace classic incandescent light bulbs with energy-efficient light bulbs. Since the EU is in an advantageous position, as the leader in this field, can the Commission state how it intends to support this UN initiative worldwide?
    Franz Obermayr Austria Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs 18 July 2012 Regulation on light bulbs Answer
    (E-007245/2012) Commission Regulation (EC) No 244/2009 of 18 March 2009 implementing Directive 2005/32/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 6 July 2005 establishing a framework for the setting of ecodesign requirements for energy-using products, including non-directional household lamps, lays down minimum standards for the energy efficiency and quality of various types of household lamps. This regulation led to the imposition of a ban on the use of standard light bulbs, which, although inefficient, are entirely safe. Experts are warning that even when used normally and correctly lamps fitted with compact fluorescent light bulbs release hazardous substances, such as mercury and phenol, into the environment.
    1. On what studies was the regulation governing household lamps, as referred to above, based?
    2. What view does the Commission take of the warnings from experts concerning the threat to public health posed by energy-saving light bulbs?
    3. In the Commission’s view, what action can be taken to address the acute environmental problems stemming from the fact that four-fifths of all energy-saving light bulbs are not disposed of properly and end up on normal tips, making it extremely likely that a significant amount of toxic mercury has been released into the environment?
    4. What does the Commission think about a product which would make it possible to use T5 fluorescent light bulbs in existing T8 tubes? Would this not be a healthier alternative to the continued use of the dangerous T8 fluorescent light bulbs, which contain mercury and of which there are still roughly 800 million in use in the EU?
    5. Many people in the EU regard the so-called ‘light bulb regulation’ — as referred to above — as an example of the nanny state gone mad. What is the Commission’s view?
    Franz Obermayr Austria Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs 26 June 2012 Risk of accidents caused by shattering energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-006358/2012) Experts warn of the risk of accidents caused by shattering energy-saving light bulbs. Up to 5 mg of the highly toxic substance mercury is released as a harmful, toxic vapour when an energy-saving light bulb shatters. According to scientists, the odourless mercury released in this way can destroy nerve cells, trigger illnesses and give rise to serious new environmental problems.
    1. How will consumers deal with the threat posed by escaping mercury in the event that an energy-saving light bulb shatters?
    2. An ‘emergency kit’ recommended by experts even includes separate boots, mask and safety overalls for the body, as well as brushes and cloths, etc. — indicating that an extremely complex procedure is required after a bulb shatters in order to reduce the risk from the released mercury. What is the Commission’s view of this type of recommended disposal? Does it consider it necessary?
    3. According to an EU study, it seems that 80 % of all energy-saving bulbs end up in normal landfills, and the mercury enters the drinking water system because few people adhere to the EU-wide disposal plan. Is the Commission familiar with this study and which is the specific study in question?
    4. As with nuclear waste, there is no final repository for energy-saving light bulbs. What projects exist for taking long-term control of the problem of a final repository for energy-saving light bulbs
    5. Is it true that the scientific studies on which the EU has based its conclusions only looked at five energy-saving light bulbs in order to establish mercury levels in an energy-saving bulb? What are the studies in question?
    Athanasios Pafilis Greece - 5 February 2008 Hazards caused by the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs Answer
    (H-0062/2008) The EU and the governments of Member States are promoting the replacement of incandescent light bulbs by compact fluorescent light bulbs (CFLs) in order to save energy. These bulbs, which are markedly more expensive for consumers, contain 5 milligrams of mercury, the use of which has been banned owing to its high toxicity and the direct danger it poses for public health.

    What measures has the Commission taken to ensure the safe disposal of used CFL bulbs so that they do not end up in urban waste, releasing the mercury they contain into the environment? Furthermore, what measures has it taken to inform users about the hazards posed by these bulbs and the necessary measures to be taken in the event of damage to or destruction of a bulb, and the shedding of the toxic substance they contain?

    Dimitrios Papadimoulis Greece Coalition of the Radical Left (MEP until 2009) 24 February 2009 Phasing-out of conventional incandescent light bulbs Answer
    (E-1138/2009) In accordance with the provisions of Directive 2005/32/EC(1), the Commission has unveiled a proposal for a regulation setting eco-design requirements for non-directional domestic light bulbs and establishing a timetable for traditional domestic incandescent light bulbs to be phased out. This timetable provides for conventional light bulbs of 100 watts and of over 40 watts to be banned from 2009 and 2010, respectively, and for the complete withdrawal of incandescent light bulbs from 2012.

    However, there are concerns that the new generation of light bulbs will affect the health particularly of people suffering from epilepsy, lupus, migraine and autism. Doubts have also been voiced about whether solutions have been found to the problem of recycling all incandescent light bulbs after they have been phased out.

    How has the recycling of incandescent light bulbs been organised? Do the Member States have their own individual plans, or has the Commission drawn up an overall plan? Which Member States have already banned incandescent light bulbs? What is the Commission's response to the concern expressed at the impact on health of new-generation light bulbs?

    Herbert Reul Germany Christiche Demokratische Union Deutschlands 24 January 2011 Energy saving light bulbs - impact analysis and new studies Answer
    (E-000280/2011) In its reply of 19 June 2009 to my previous question on energy saving light bulbs, the Commission stated that it would pay close attention to questions asked in the next three years and, if necessary, propose additional measures on the basis of future scientific data. Is the Commission continuing to do examine such questions? Is it aware of the new German Federal Environmental Agency study on energy saving light bulbs and the dangers presented when they break? Why did the Commission’s impact analysis only mention mercury and not lead, antimony, barium, arsenic or yttrium, in view of the fact, of which it was perfectly aware, that a minority of such light bulbs are recycled? What is the Commission's view of the dangers for the environment and public health caused by the use and inappropriate disposal of these substances present in (many?) energy saving light bulbs? And how did the Commission come to the conclusion that 20% of them would be recycled in the EU, when it is clearly stated in note 17 that the recycling rate reached a maximum of 20% in countries where environmental issues are taken the most seriously? What is more, is the Commission aware of irregularities in recycling partially reported in the media?

    In its impact analysis, the Commission expressed numerous concerns (aggravated symptoms in around 250 000 patients as a result of mercury poisoning) when it decided to phase out incandescent light bulbs. It also proposed changing labelling requirements. Why were these requirements then only modified in 2010? Should the public not have been informed earlier? And why was no proposal forthcoming on disclosure of the dangers involved? Indeed, when so many people (250 000) are concerned, should they not be empowered to make an informed choice when selecting the right light bulb? Moreover, all consumers purchasing energy saving light bulbs containing mercury need to be informed of the dangers represented by their use and inappropriate disposal. What are the current arrangements in this regard?

    How did the Commission calculate the energy consumption of energy saving light bulbs, or rather the amount of energy saved by introducing them? Did it calculate this based on their entire life cycle, including production and recycling? Was due account taken of reactive current (15-20% additional energy)?

    Herbert Reul Germany Christiche Demokratische Union Deutschlands 13 January 2011 Energy efficiency savings for households Answer
    (E-011298/2010) It its Green Paper on energy efficiency of 22 June 2005, the Commission cited studies which claimed that the average household could make annual savings of between EUR 200 and EUR 1 000 by improving energy efficiency. Recent Commission communications, however, quote savings of ‘up to’ EUR 1 000. A draft discussion paper for a European strategy on energy efficiency from 21 June 2010 states that ‘energy saving benefits can easily amount to over EUR 1 000 per household: EUR 600 thereof due to lower energy bills and the remainder due to cost savings elsewhere’.

    Can the Commission say precisely how these figures are calculated? What percentage of homes in the EU could actually make savings of EUR 1 000 or more by introducing energy efficiency measures? What is the figure for Germany? What are the figures for the other Member States? By contrast, how many households are able to make annual savings of less than EUR 500? How many households could only make savings of less than EUR 200?

    Does the Commission take into account the trend towards single occupancy seen in most Member States? Why does the Commission no longer state the range of potential savings, as it did in 2005?

    How much would need to be invested in order to achieve such savings? What are the payback periods? For example, if an investment of EUR 50 000 is necessary in order to make sustainable annual savings of EUR 1 000, the payback period would be 50 years. Is this a realistic assumption for Germany? The Bundesvereinigung Spitzenverbände der Immobilienwirtschaft (German real estate association) has calculated that renovating the average detached house built in 1955 (140 square metres, 2 floors plus a full-sized cellar, oil heating from 1982), for example, would cost EUR 113 116. If annual savings of EUR 1 000 were indeed made as a result of this, the payback period would be 113 years — for a house built in 1955. In its answer to Question E-7559/2010 on energy efficiency in EU buildings dated 15 September 2010, the Commission wrote that an energy audit had shown that investment costs increase exponentially with each further energy efficiency measure introduced and/or each additional percentage of energy saved. Will this be taken into account in the assumptions made by the Commission?

    Herbert Reul Germany Christiche Demokratische Union Deutschlands 18 January 2011 Ecodesign: new German Federal Environment Office findings on energy-efficient light bulbs Answer
    (E-011180/2010) Article 15(5) of the revised Ecodesign Directive of 2009 (Directive No 2009/125/EC) lays down criteria to be met by implementing measures based on the directive. One of them (subparagraph (b)) is that health, safety and the environment shall not be adversely affected.

    The German Federal Environment Agency (Umweltbundesamt — UBA) recently conducted research into the effects of the breakage of energy-efficient light bulbs, particularly with regard to their mercury content, high concentrations of mercury being harmful to health. Following breakage of these light bulbs when hot, peak concentrations of 500 µg/m3 have been measured at floor level. However, the UBA took measurements at a height of one metre from the floor and recorded levels of mercury pollution 20 times above the limit value. It concluded that the amounts of mercury released on breakage of the light bulbs were ‘unacceptable on health grounds’ and therefore advised against the use of breakable light bulbs in rooms regularly used by pregnant women, young children and other persons particularly at risk. It also issued further recommendations about handling such light bulbs.

    Was the Commission, in coming to its decisions on the relevant implementing regulation, aware of such warnings or of the Maine [US] Compact Fluorescent Lamp Breakage Study, which the UBA quoted? Given the legal stipulations in the directive and the UBA’s findings, how does the Commission justify its decisions against traditional light bulbs? What conclusions does the Commission draw from these findings? What scope does it see for legal measures to afford people effective health protection? Is the Commission considering a derogation from the implementing regulation, at least for 60-watt light bulbs, until such time as appropriate, mercury-free alternatives about which there are no health concerns become available on the market? Is the Commission considering a ban on breakable energy-efficient light bulbs that contain mercury?

    Lastly, is there any truth in the rumours that, following the bans on traditional 100-watt and 75-watt light bulbs, third countries have begun producing 99-watt and 74-watt versions?

    Herbert Reul Germany Christiche Demokratische Union Deutschlands 14 May 2009 Health risks from energy-saving lamps Answer
    (E-3581/2009) There are increasing reports in the press to the effect that energy-saving lamps can make you ill, for instance by encouraging hormone-related cancers or macular degeneration. The reason is said to be the high proportion of blue light, leading to a decline in melatonin production. They are also said to produce electrosmog and to have a generally poor quality of light. The Öko-Test Foundation in Germany came to the conclusion after testing them that there was no point in saving power with energy-saving lamps. For further details I refer to an article in the Rheinische Post of 21 April 2009, on page A7.

    How does the Commission propose to deal with these new findings? Should it not be giving human health top priority?

    Robert Rochefort France Mouvement démocrate 8 December 2011 Risks linked to the use of energy-efficient light bulbs Answer
    (E-011604/2011) With the entry in force of Directive 2005/32/EC (the Ecodesign Directive) the use of energy-efficient light bulbs, particularly compact fluorescent light bulbs and light-emitting diodes (LEDs), has become widespread. However, these two types of light bulb appear to pose numerous risks to public health.

    Compact fluorescent light bulbs contain mercury, which people may be exposed to if the bulb breaks. A study published in the medical journal The Lancet claims that use of these bulbs, which emit UV radiation, could double the risk of contracting melanoma, the most dangerous form of skin cancer. LEDs contain hazardous and carcinogenic substances (such as arsenic, nickel and lead) and could cause damage to the retina.

    In its answer to Question E-010498/2010, the Commission stated that it had asked the independent Scientific Committee on Emerging and Newly Identified Health Risks (SCENIHR) to provide an opinion on the potential health effects of artificial light, including from LED technology. The Commission added that the opinion was due to be given in March 2011, and that it would be used as the basis for a decision on how to address any identified health risks.

    1. Can the Commission reveal the content of the SCENIHR opinion of March 2011?
    2. Can it say what measures it will take, or that it intends to take, following the publication of this opinion to provide effective protection to European consumers and ensure that they are better informed of any risks?
    Robert Rochefort France Mouvement démocrate 20 December 2010 Light-emitting diodes Answer
    (E-010498/2010) Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) — which have the advantage of being environmentally friendly — are used ever more frequently in Europe for household and public lighting, in light therapy products and in some toys for children.

    90% of LEDs work according to a process which combines a blue diode with yellow phosphorus to obtain white light. However, this blue light is dangerous for the retina: the various pigments present in its cells can lead to a reaction, causing lesions produced by oxidative stress.

    According to the French Agency for Food, Environmental and Occupational Health and Safety, these new lights could be particularly damaging for children, light-sensitive people — including those suffering from certain eye and skin diseases — and exposed professionals (lighting engineers, dentists, etc.).

    What measures does the Commission intend to take in order to protect European consumers more effectively from this risk?

    Furthermore, it would seem essential to inform them better on this issue. What initiatives does the Commission intend to take in this field?

    Raül Romeva i Rueda Spain Iniciativa per Catalunya Verds 3 February 2011 Mercury intake and its possible link to the onset of autism Answer
    (E-000767/2011) On the strength of having demonstrated mercury’s properties to be damaging to human health, experts have recommended a still further reduction of any intake of that contaminant. The problem is that mercury (two thirds of which comes from coal-fired power stations, the chlorine and caustic soda industry, incinerators and mines) can, on being washed to the sea, convert to methyl mercury, which is a chemical substance potentially highly toxic to the nervous system and which accumulates in fish with long life-spans such as tuna, swordfish and sharks. ACSA (the Catalan Food Safety Agency) has issued an alert on its potential neurotoxic effects, as well as its impact on pregnant women. Experts have also reported that the intake of mercury in its most toxic form (methyl mercury) by women and children is in excess of the daily levels set by the WHO. That is why it has been recommended that people reduce their consumption of large fish such as tuna and swordfish, as these contain high concentrations of methyl mercury. In addition to this, it has been argued that there is a possible link between mercury consumption and the onset of autism in children. Methyl mercury is believed to filter through the placenta, thereby affecting the central nervous system of the developing foetus. While the studies conducted show mercury intake to be within the limits set by the WHO for adults, that level is exceeded in children (intake of 2.01 (boys) and 1.65 (girls) micrograms per kilo per week, when the WHO limit is 1.6 micrograms). This is therefore a problem relating to the groups of people at highest risk, which is to say children and women of child­bearing age, who on many occasions are unaware that fish contain large quantities of mercury.

    It seems that some Spanish companies are relocating their operations to outside the EU in order to bypass EU directives regulating the use of mercury within the EU (e.g. in thermometers). Is the Commission aware of this situation? 80 % of cases of fishery product contamination are detected outside Spain, but does the Commission know whether there are any mercury mines operating within Spain? If so, what mechanisms does the EU have to address this issue? Does the Commission think there is any relationship between mercury intake and the onset of autism? If it cannot say, will it investigate this matter? What measures will it take to ensure that coal-fired power stations and the chlorine industry reduce their atmospheric emissions of mercury?

    Bart Staes Belgium Groen 19 September 2012 Mercury emissions from power plants Answer
    In August 2012 the American National Resources Defense Council (NRDC) published a report entitled ‘Toxic Power: How Power Plants Contaminate Our Air and States’(1). On the basis of figures from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), the level of mercury emissions from power plants for the United States by state was published for the year 2010. Given the great importance for the well-being of citizens that mercury emissions are maintained at the lowest possible level, it is important to assess what the current situation is in the EU.
    1. Can the Commission provide me with the most recent figures for mercury air pollution from power stations in the European Union (by country and overall)?
    2. Will the Commission, if necessary, take additional measures to tackle this problem?
    _____________________________________

    (1) http://www.nrdc.org/air/files/toxic-power-presentation.pdf

    Kay Swinburne United Kingdom Conservative Party 8 February 2012 Light pollution Answer
    (E-001454/2012) A number of concerned constituents have contacted me to ask what the EU is doing to reduce light pollution across the Union. Whilst I understand that lighting is essential for society to operate, it can often be intrusive, causing a 'sky glow' which makes it difficult to view distant stars owing to the artificial brightness created. This dramatically reduces the enjoyment of those who wish to view the night sky.

    Can the Commission clarify whether:

    1. it has any plans to address this matter?
    2. any assessment of the impact of light pollution has been, or will be, conducted?
    Konrad Szymanski Poland Prawo i Sprawiedliwość 22 February 2010 Harmful effects on human health of energy-saving light bulbs and economic and environmental aspects of their use and production Answer
    (E-0862/2010) In November 2009, Polish researchers from the chemistry department of Rzeszow Polytechnic wrote to the Commission setting out a series of forceful arguments concerning the harmful effects on human health of compact fluorescent light bulbs. In this connection, the researchers cast doubt on the provisions of Regulation (EC) No 244/2009, which provides for the gradual withdrawal from use of traditional light bulbs in favour of the energy-saving kind. They also drew attention to the shortcomings in the economic and environmental arguments for the compulsory introduction of compact fluorescent bulbs.

    In the light of the above, will the Commission answer the following:

    1. During the withdrawal from the market of traditional light bulbs, why has proper consideration not been given to the harmful effects on human health of the mercury compounds contained in compact fluorescent light bulbs?
    2. Before the regulation was introduced, was research carried out into the effects of energy-saving bulbs in exacerbating glaucoma and depression and on their adverse effects on persons suffering from migraines and epilepsy?
    3. What risks are posed to domestic users by a damaged energy-saving bulb?
    4. Does the Commission think it important to provide full information on the risks posed by the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs?
    5. Was a cost-efficiency study of the use of compact fluorescent light bulbs carried out before the regulation was introduced?
    6. Why was it decided on the one hand to end the production of mercury thermometers, yet, on the other, to compel consumers to use a much more common product such as compact fluorescent light bulbs, which contain mercury compounds harmful to human health?
    7. Is it true, as the researchers maintain, that the production of a compact fluorescent light bulb requires ten times the amount of energy as that of a traditional light bulb?
    8. Is it true, as the researchers maintain, that the one-off simultaneous replacement of all traditional light bulbs by energy-saving ones would lead to only a small percentage saving of energy?
    9. Will this energy saving not be offset by the increased energy requirements generated by the production and use of energy-saving light bulbs?
    Charles Tannock United Kingdom Conservative Party 11 September 2012 Speeches in plenary - Explanations of vote Speeches in plenary
    Mr President, cooperation and coordination in energy efficiency policies could actually bring added value, provided they are not binding on the Member States. But this is an area where you could bring financial savings to the consumer by making things cheaper. I agree with Mr Hannan that the market is important.

    There would be less environmental pollution, with the emission of certain toxic noxious gases, if the power stations could be more efficient. There could also be fewer greenhouse gas emissions, but I also think that there is a danger sometimes of being overreactive, as with the abolition of the incandescent light bulb. The imposition of mandatory CFL light bulbs is something that irritated me no end. They cannot be dimmed, so you cannot make them more efficient. They give off UV light, which potentially causes cancer in people with certain conditions of the skin, and they release toxic mercury into the environment. This was like using a sledge-hammer to crack a nut, because you could have actually used the market – made them cheap and available – and people would therefore have switched to them on a voluntary basis. But to make it mandatory was something that made the EU very unpopular in my constituency of London.

    Marc Tarabella Belgium Parti Socialiste 26 October 2010 Regulation of the electric light bulb market and consumer information Answer
    (E-8792/2010) On 18 March 2009 the Commission adopted a regulation on ecodesign requirements for non-directional household lamps (Regulation (EC) No 244/2009).

    The regulation provides for the replacement of old incandescent light bulbs with a power rating of 100W or more by compact fluorescent light bulbs that are more economical and have no negative climate-change effects.

    However, recent research findings from the consumer organisation Test-Achats indicate that there are serious shortcomings with regard to the useful life of the new bulbs and the savings that they represent.

    Can the Commission state:

    • whether and how it intends to impose strict and detailed standards on manufacturers so that they will have to comply with the claims made on labels about duration of product life and potential savings?
    • whether and how it intends to require manufacturers to improve the quality and level of detail in information intended for purchasers/users of the new products?
    Gary Titley United Kingdom Labour Party (MEP until 2009) 24 May 2007 Incandescent light bulbs Answer
    (E-2667/2007) Is the Commission aware that on grounds of health and safety, incandescent light bulbs are widely used in industrial machinery such as lathes? Although the bulk of industry is exempt from proposals to phase out such light bulbs, can the Commission clarify the situation for private citizens who own and use industrial machinery?

    What provisions will be made for antique devices?

    Ionannis A. Tsoukalas Greece Nea Demokratia 26 November 2010 Light bulbs Answer
    (E-9874/2010) In view of the phase-out of traditional light bulbs in the EU over the next three years and their replacement with a new generation of energy-efficient lighting, manufacturers and importers can no longer sell clear incandescent light bulbs of 100 W or above in the EU, unless they have been in stock.

    Similarly, in the US the energy-efficiency standards which are due to enter into effect in 2012 will phase out ordinary incandescent bulbs in favour of the more efficient compact fluorescent bulbs. This transition, however, is having adverse effects on manufacturing jobs as companies are shipping jobs to overseas plants manufacturing compact fluorescent bulbs, because in the US companies do not manufacture the more efficient bulbs.

    In light of the above, the Commission is asked:

    1. How much energy is being saved by the use of energy-efficient bulbs in the EU? How much time does it take for a fluorescent bulb to pay for its higher cost?
    2. Which Member States are the most advanced in terms of the transition to energy-efficient light bulbs?
    3. Where are these new energy-efficient light bulbs manufactured? Are there any factories in the EU, or are these bulbs imported from third countries?
    4. Were there any plants in the EU manufacturing traditional light bulbs? How many jobs have been lost, or are expected to be lost, in the EU because of the closure of plants manufacturing traditional light bulbs?
    Frank Vanhecke Belgium Onafhankelijk (Independent) 29 April 2013 Mercury in energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (P-004787/2013) In connection with mercury in energy-saving light bulbs, mercury emissions from power stations are being greatly overestimated, the Commission website(1) indicating a level of 0.016 mg/kWh. On the basis of this inflated figure, the report by VITO and the Commission concluded that the mercury content of energy-saving light bulbs, with their lower power consumption and longer duration, was more than offset by the reduction in mercury emissions from coal-fired power stations. However, mercury emissions from power stations are in fact much lower, which means that the use of energy-saving light bulbs cannot be justified on the basis of the VITO report.

    How many years is it necessary to go back to arrive at the emission levels quoted by the Commission?

    Was it justified to defend the use of energy-saving light bulbs on the basis of outdated values?

    At the Minimata Convention, the UNEP took steps to have certain types of energy-saving light bulb banned by 2020. Should the EU not follow suit by banning all energy-saving light bulbs containing mercury?

    _____________________________________

    (1) http://ec.europa.eu/health/scientific_committees/opinions_layman/mercury-in-cfl/en/mercury-cfl/l-2/3-emissions-risk-environment.htm

    Frank Vanhecke Belgium Onafhankelijk (Independent) 25 September 2009 Compulsory use of energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-4522/2009) The Commission has decided that conventional light bulbs are to be phased out by 1 September 2012. It points out that this will save energy and will also be good for consumers.

    On the other hand, many doctors point to the serious health risks that may be caused by the use of such energy-saving light bulbs. Their use is not only associated with an increased risk of cancer, but also with cardiovascular diseases, diabetes and osteoporosis. The presence of mercury in energy-saving light bulbs is also problematic. The ophthalmologist Bernhard Lachenmayr comments for his part that the use of energy-saving light bulbs entails serious risks to people with poor eyesight (‘Energiesparlampen begünstigen viele Krankheiten’ (‘Energy-saving light bulbs favour many illnesses’), Die Welt, 25 August 2009).

    What is the Commission's response to this criticism? What opinions has the Commission obtained, and from what institutions, before making the introduction of energy-saving light bulbs compulsory?

    Dominique Vlasto France Union pour un mouvement Populaire 1 August 2011 Metal recycling Answer
    (E-007532/2011) A recent United Nations Environment Programme report draws attention to the worryingly low metal recycling rate in Europe and around the world. This is severely restricting metal reuse and is a major barrier to the development of a genuinely green economy.

    It is a recognised fact that sustainable natural resource use is the only means of cutting greenhouse gas emissions from mining and smelting operations, generating substantially less waste and avoiding shortages.

    Furthermore, the recycling of certain metals would help to meet industry’s growing need for basic raw materials, as well as the needs of the clean technologies sector.

    It should be pointed out that the recycling rate is particularly low for metals used in the manufacture of batteries for hybrid vehicles, light-emitting diodes (LEDs), photovoltaic panels and wind turbines. These technologies play a key role in efforts to develop a decarbonised economy and ensure green growth and clean, environment-friendly consumption patterns. They are, of course, fully in keeping with the EU’s strategy in this area, in particular the objectives set under the climate and energy package.

    1. Does the Commission intend to put forward a strategy addressing the extremely low metal recycling rate?
    2. Does it intend to introduce incentives to encourage industry to make a significant contribution to recycling efforts?
    Sir Graham Watson United Kingdom Liberal Democrats Party 17 July 2007 Health implications of an EU ban on incandescent light bulbs Answer
    (E-3675/2007) In view of the proposal to phase out traditional incandescent light bulbs throughout the EU, is the Commission aware that sufferers of photo-sensitivity conditions experience migraines and other adverse health effects from some energy-saving bulbs?

    Has the Commission considered assessing the potentially negative health impact of energy-saving bulbs for people with special medical conditions?

    Angelika Werthmann Austria - 26 June 2012 Light bulbs Answer
    (E-006340/2012) 25- and 40-Watt light bulbs are to be taken out of circulation in September of this year.

    Large sections of the population are still not in favour of energy-saving bulbs on account of a number of health studies (mainly due to their high mercury level), the high cost of production and sales price, and the problem of disposal.

    1. Has the Commission reached any new conclusions, or is it prepared to include these serious reservations — reservations which must be taken seriously — in its strategy, particularly in view of the current grave economic difficulties?
    2. Is the Commission aware of the risks outlined in many health studies, and what is its response to them, in particular to the resulting long-term risks and their follow-up costs?

      2a. Has an estimate already been drawn up about this?

    Angelika Werthmann Austria - 19 September 2012 ‘Unlikelihood’ of a health risk from compact fluorescent lamps Answer
    (E-008247/2012) In its answer to my question no E-006340/2012 of 26 June 2012, the Commission stated on 6 August 2012 that escaped mercury from broken compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) was ‘unlikely to present a health risk’.

    It added that researchers had examined ‘exposure situations ranging from several minutes with clean-up and ventilation (best case) to several hours without cleaning and ventilation (worst case)’ and that ‘in all cases, the breaking of a CFL was found unlikely to pose a health risk for any category of population’.

    This means that the Commission cannot exclude the existence of a potential risk to various population categories!

    1. Is the Commission in a position to define precisely the degree of probability involved here? A full explanation is requested.
    2. Is the Commission prepared to assume public responsibility if in fact there is a risk from escaped mercury?
    Åsa Westlund Sweden Arbetarepartiet-Socialdemakraterna 1 December 2011 Recycling of energy-saving light bulbs Answer
    (E-011190/2011) On 21 November, the Svenska Dagbladet newspaper reported that an estimated 200 000 energy-saving light bulbs containing mercury are wrongly disposed of in standard glass recycling containers. It is unclear how many are thrown out with normal household waste.

    On my own visits to recycling centres I have protested about the negligent handling of mercury light bulbs, as these are placed in large containers where they can easily be smashed.

    This poses a great risk to human health and the environment.

    Does the Commission know the percentage figure for energy-saving light bulbs recycled properly in the various EU Member States? If not, how will it obtain this information? What measures does the Commission intend to take regarding the scandalous handling of such a hazardous substance as mercury, with a view to ensuring that the collection of energy-saving light bulbs is carried out properly?

    The Svenska Dagbladet report indicates that both consumers and the companies involved have an alarmingly poor knowledge of how to handle energy-saving light bulbs. What follow-up action will the Commission take so that the information given to consumers actually sinks in? [See also Debate: Waste electrical and electronic equipment]

    Marina Yannakoudakis United Kingdom Conservative Party 11 July 2013 Modern lighting Answer
    (E-008338/2013) Around 2 million people across the EU are affected by modern lighting. For instance, patients with the condition Xeroderma Pigmentosum (XP) are only able to be in incandescent light, whilst others only find halogen lighting acceptable. These problems can be exacerbated when travelling from place to place — whilst many can use halogen lighting in their homes, they find it difficult accessing public transport, places of work, medical services and religious institutions that use different types of lighting.

    Halogen lighting is reported to be banned by the EU from 2016, which is likely to further decrease the choice available to those who, for example, suffer from short exposure to Compact Fluorescent Lights (CFLs) and long exposure to Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs).

    With this in mind, what is the Commission doing to help accommodate those who suffer from such conditions and who often find it difficult to go about their daily lives?

    Marina Yannakoudakis United Kingdom Conservative Party 6 January 2012 CFL and LED bulbs Answer
    (E-012428/2011) What studies has the Commission carried out with a view to determining whether compact fluorescent light (CFL) and light-emitting diode (LED) bulbs pose a risk to the health of EU citizens?

    Marina Yannakoudakis United Kingdom Conservative Party 11 December 2009 The safe disposal of compact fluorescent lamps Answer
    (E-6212/2009) What plans does the Commission have to investigate the health risks associated with the disposal of compact fluorescent lamps and other types of low-energy light bulbs following public concerns over the mercury content of these products?

    When will SCHER be given a mandate by DG SANCO to investigate the risks associated with the disposal of compact fluorescent lamps and the subsequent release of mercury, and what will the terms of reference be for this? Furthermore, what studies have been undertaken to determine how best to dispose safely of compact fluorescent lamps, and are there any proposed studies in the future?

    What studies of this issue were undertaken in impact assessment reports and other documentation when previous EU legislation was proposed by the Commission regarding the phasing out of traditional light bulbs and the subsequent safe disposal of the lamps, bearing in mind the fact that they contain a small amount of mercury and the safety implications as regards contamination?

    Marina Yannakoudakis United Kingdom Conservative Party 13 October 2009 Release of mercury and compact fluorescent lamps Answer
    (E-4856/2009) When will SCHER be given a mandate by DG SANCO to investigate the risks associated with the accidental breakage of compact fluorescent lamps and the subsequent release of mercury, and what will the terms of reference be for this? Furthermore, what studies have been undertaken to determine the links between partial loss of sight, partial blindness, cataracts and fluorescent lighting, and are there any studies proposed for the future?

    Zbigniew Ziobro Poland Solidarna Polska 14 December 2010 Speeches in plenary - Energy Efficiency Action Plan (debate) Debates
    Mr President, ever since September 2009, Europeans have been exchanging traditional light bulbs, to which they had grown accustomed, for those produced with new, energy saving technology. The need for this change was justified by energy saving slogans, and the change has taken place despite signs that the financial costs to be borne by EU citizens would be too great, particularly over such a short period of time. It is an open secret that the data presented at the time by the European Commission regarding the effects of such a change came from the advertising materials of the producers of these new-technology light bulbs, and there is a great deal of evidence to indicate that this was the case.

    In the report being discussed, we can see similarly over-optimistic assumptions. Insufficient reference is made to the development differences between the EU Member States and, as a result, to the costs they will have to bear if the recommendations are implemented. If industrial plants are to make annual energy saving improvements of 2% as stated, while, at the same time, reducing greenhouse gas emissions, the result will be an increase in production costs and the transfer of production outside Europe.

    Street lighting
    Andreas Mölzer Austria Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs 18 February 2011 Optimising street lighting Answer
    (E-001464/2011) Local street lighting may generate up to 80 % of public electricity costs in small municipalities. Calculated on the basis of a 25-year life, running costs account for around 85 % of the total costs of a street lighting system. Around a third of street lighting in Germany is 20 years old or more, with technology which is no longer state-of-the-art, and this leads to unnecessarily high energy costs and is very maintenance-intensive. Particularly in the area of public street lighting, there should be potential for energy and cost savings, which could in turn help to achieve EU energy and environmental targets, for example through combinations of solar-powered LED lighting.

    It is also important that lighting is designed in a way which does not dazzle, in order not to irritate road users, as incorrectly arranged lighting can cause ‘camouflage areas’, areas in which the contrast in terms of brightness between an object (pedestrian, parked vehicle) and the road cannot be discerned by the subjective eye. Unnecessary, incorrectly installed or poorly shaded street lamps can also cause light pollution, which has a negative impact on fauna and on human beings (e.g. if bedrooms can no longer be made sufficiently dark, or as a consequence of overstimulation). In densely populated areas diffuse light also hinders astronomical research. Better light quality has other benefits, therefore, in addition to making citizens safer.

    1. Is the EU providing support for training or exchange of best practice between local authorities in order to meet requirements in terms of energy and environmental targets?
    2. Is the EU providing support for switching to energy-saving, low-emission alternatives, e.g. solar-powered street lighting?
    3. Is research being carried out at EU level investigating possible links between ‘camouflage areas’ and crime and accident statistics, or is the EU providing support for such research?
    4. Is the Commission aware of the problem of light pollution, and to what extent is this issue being addressed at EU level?
    Oreste Rossi Italy Lega Nord 20 January 2012 Saving energy through street lighting Answer
    (E-000388/2012) A team of researchers working for two major Spanish electricity companies has tested a smart public lighting system which would generate savings of EUR 250 million a year if used throughout Spain.

    The LUIX technology adjusts the intensity of street lamps as needed. A sensor inside each street lamp detects the volume of people or vehicles and changes the angle of illumination according to the speed or direction of the object detected. When there are no vehicles or individuals present, the street lamps reduce illumination to a minimum, but never actually turn off.

    A further advantage of the LUIX system is the fact that, because every street light is controlled remotely, municipal or private operators are alerted to problems in real time and can therefore undertake repairs promptly.

    This system is extremely useful: the town of Gabiria, for example, has saved 83.84 % on superfluous lighting, reducing CO2 emissions by 7 720 kg in just one year.

    These are amazing results, which could have many economic and environmental benefits for municipalities. The technology can also be used to monitor traffic in various urban areas, since the sensors are able to detect the volume of passing cars.

    Given that the LUIX system could have many benefits for European town and cities, can the Commission say whether it will promote its use in the Member States?

    Motions for resolutions
    Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris Italy Il Popolo della Libertá 28 June 2012 Motion on wider use of LED light bulbs Motion
    (B-0381/2012) The European Parliament,
    • having regard to Rule 120 of its Rules of Procedure,
    1. whereas incandescent light bulbs were taken out of production as a result of their high energy consumption;
    2. whereas the search for efficient, cost-effective lighting technologies that will minimise energy consumption is of key importance in EU efforts to meet the Europe 2020 strategy objectives;
    3. whereas LED bulbs are currently considered to be one of the most innovative lighting technologies in that they:
      • are low-consumption and give out a wide beam of light;
      • dissipate heat more efficiently and have a long life, as a result of which they offer an energy saving of between 80% and 90% over conventional halogen bulbs;
      • are versatile, being suited for use both in homes and in offices and commercial premises;
      • give off only a small amount of heat, thus making it easier to control the ambient temperature in the premises in which they are used;
    4. whereas, given that they do not contain toxic substances and have a low energy consumption, such bulbs help to protect the environment;
    5. whereas such bulbs do not emit UVA and UVB rays, thus avoiding damage to photosensitive materials;

    1. Calls on the Commission to promote awareness-raising campaigns to provide information on and encourage wider use of LED light bulbs.
  3. Rare earths
  4. MEP Country Party Date Subject Answer
    (Number of the question) Question
    Bendt Bendtsen Denmark Det Konservative Folkeparti 9 January 2012 Rare earths and Greenland Answer
    (E-012586/2011) On 9 December 2011 the Commission presented a proposal for a Council decision on an Instrument for Greenland. The budgetary implications of the proposal amount to EUR 217.8 million over a 7-year period, a total which roughly corresponds to the existing cooperation agreement between the EU and Greenland.The focus in the existing partnership agreement is on education, whereas in the future instrument the money can also go to other areas such as natural resources, energy, climate protection, research and innovation — i.e. the same cake has more mouths to feed.

    The field of raw materials (rare earths) in particular offers great potential as regards development prospects for Greenland and significance for European industry.

    1. Is the Commission’s failure to invest very much in Greenland perhaps explained by the fact that Greenland has no strategy with regard to rare earths on account of the country’s previous zero-tolerance policy towards the extraction of uranium?
    2. Is the Commission open to investing more in Greenland through other instruments?
    Bendt Bendtsen Denmark Det Konservative Folkeparti 13 October 2011 Rare earths and Greenland Answer
    (E-009154/2011) In its raw materials initiative presented on 2 February 2011, the Commission declared that rare earths are amongst the most important in the EU’s list of 14 critical raw materials. Rare earths are an example of raw materials that industry really needs to have access to. The one short-term solution is trade policy. Rare earths can be found in Greenland. President Barroso informed several MEPs in an official letter of 23 June 2011 that the Commission is holding talks with Greenland’s representation in Brussels with a view to enhancing cooperation in the field of rare earths.
    1. Will the Commission seek to incorporate enhanced cooperation within the existing partnership established by Council Decision 2006/526/EC of 17 July 2006?
    2. How will the Commission ensure that raw materials extracted in Greenland are made available on the free market?
    Bendt Bendtsen Denmark Det Konservative Folkeparti 26 May 2011 Rare earths and Greenland Answer
    (E-005438/2011) Many European companies need rare earths for their production activities. China’s restrictions on the export of rare earths have turned these into a resource of strategic importance to Europe. In this context, we welcome the Commission’s statement in its communication on tackling the challenges in commodity markets and on raw materials (COM(2011)25) that rare earths are of critical importance for European industry. Greenland is not an EU Member State, but has a long and valuable relationship with the EU, inter alia through various cooperation agreements and its ties with Denmark.
    1. Is the Council open to developing more practical cooperation with Greenland on rare earths?
    2. Does the Council consider that Council Decision 9802/06 on a cooperation agreement between the EU and Greenland can be renewed so that it also takes into account the EU’s strategic interest in the exploitation of rare earths in Greenland, whilst paying attention to the environmental dimension and a carefully considered education and employment policy with respect to the resulting business interests in Greenland?
    3. Does the Council see any additional or alternative opportunities for cooperation with Greenland in the exploration and exploitation of rare earths?
    Mara Bizzotto Italy Lega Nord 6 September 2010 Supply of europium [yttrium, lutetium, neodymium, promethium, scandium] and EU international political and economic measures Answer
    (E-6929/2010 - E-6921/2010) According to analysts and experts, the future global economic and geopolitical framework will depend not only on the energy race but also on the supply of the raw materials that are necessary for human and animal food production and the production of goods for mass consumption, as well as for strategic industrial sectors such as the military and high-technology industries.

    Among the materials that are currently attracting the attention of financial operators and governments are a number of rare elements such as europium, which is vital for future production of high-tech goods.

    1. Given the strategic importance of the element in question, does the Commission consider that it would be in the EU's interest to facilitate the procurement of europium for the Member States' industrial sectors? What action does it think it could take in the field of international political and economic relations in order to achieve that objective?
    2. Does the Commission consider that it should take or promote action to address the fact that China, which is the source of most of the europium used in industry worldwide, is adopting increasingly restrictive policies on the export of this rare element in an attempt to attract into its own territory the production of goods whose components are manufactured using europium?
    Mara Bizzotto Italy Lega Nord 3 September 2010 Scandium [and other earths] extraction in the EU Answer
    (E-6904/2010 - 6898/2010) Can the Commission say whether, as far as it is aware, there are any scandium extraction sites in Europe and, if so, in which Member States? Taking account of the importance of this mineral for the production of hi-tech goods, how much scandium is extracted in Europe as a percentage of the requirements of the EU technology industry? Will the Commission put forward any measures to increase the capacity for extracting scandium in Europe?
    Reinhard Bütikofer Germany Bündnis 90/Die Grünen 15 September 2010 Security of raw materials Answer
    (E-7369/2010) In the context of the report on critical raw materials by DG Enterprise and Industry, as well as the upcoming Communication on raw materials, I would like to pose the following questions: (...)

    7. What research programmes does the Commission currently have in place on rare earths, particularly in combination with recycling?

    Daniel Caspary Germany Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands 9 May 2011 Extraction of the rare earth metal neodymium in China and the resulting environmental damage Answer
    (E-004602/2011) The chemical element neodymium (ND60), a rare earth metal, is used, for example, in the production of wind turbines for Europe. China accounts for 97% of the world’s supply of neodymium.

    In 2010, China decided to raise its environmental standards. According to media reports, however, China is failing to meet its self-imposed target in the case of neodymium. The by-products of the extraction and chemical separation of neodymium (ND60) from rock are highly toxic. Moreover, when the ore is processed radioactive uranium and thorium are released and seep into the groundwater, causing long-term harm to the environment and local inhabitants.

    1. Is the Commission aware of the problems caused by the use of neodymium in the production of wind turbines?
    2. Are environmental requirements already imposed in connection with the import of neodymium? If so, are these requirements being met?
    3. What measures does the Commission take in cases where these environmental requirements are not met?
    4. Are there legal provisions in place to encourage European businesses whose products need neodymium to ensure that their suppliers comply with environmental requirements?
    5. What impact does the use of neodymium have on the overall environmental footprint of wind turbines?
    Daniel Caspary Germany Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands 11 February 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements Answer
    (O-000036/2011) Rare earth elements (REE) are critical to hundreds of high-tech applications and key to the development of green technologies (such as wind-powered turbines, hybrid vehicles, etc.), and thus essential to the competitiveness of European industry. Although REE are rather abundant in the earth’s crust, their economic exploitation is not easy. EU industry currently depends totally on REE imports from China, which holds a virtual monopoly by controlling 97 % of the world production. China has 36 % of the world’s known economic REE reserves (and an estimated 59 % of the total reserves) and at the same time pursues bilateral agreements for securing known reserves worldwide. China combines a vertical organisation of its REE industry with strong research and development and has already achieved a significant competitive advantage in refining REE ores and producing alloys and end products, while EU industry lacks both access to REE raw materials and the industrial and scientific know-how for processing them. Furthermore, while global demand for REE is rising, China has already announced significant export restrictions.

    Does the EU have a comprehensive strategy on REE? Has the Commission made an assessment of the criticality of REE supply for European industry? It is estimated that already in 2014 there will be a global production shortfall of 40 000 tonnes of REE, which may lead to significant problems for EU industry in particular, including a sharp rise in prices. What possible short-term measures is the Commission proposing to take regarding REE, in accordance with the pillars set out in the European Raw Materials Initiative (RMI)?

    How does the Commission intend to deal with the sensitive REE issue in its regular dialogue with China? What is the state of play within the WTO? What steps has the EC taken, along with its partners, to establish alternative sources of REE and minimise the supply risk to European industry?

    Given that REE are necessary not only for high-tech appliances and green technologies but also for critical medical and defence applications, is the Commission considering the possibility of setting up a European stockpiling scheme for these materials (following similar moves by the US, Japan and Korea) in order to ensure adequate REE supply and price stability? What are the prospects for REE recycling in the EU? Will REE substitution play an important role in the next research FP? How does the Commission plan to encourage EU REE companies to redevelop and exploit other sources within the EU, in Greenland or in the developing countries?

    Marielle de Sarnez France Mouvement Démocrate 28 February 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements Same answer
    (O-000043/2011/rev. 1) Rare earth elements (REE) are critical to hundreds of high-tech applications, and key to the development of green technologies such as wind-powered turbines and hybrid vehicles. EU industry currently depends totally on REE imports from China, which controls 97% of world production. Furthermore, while global demand for REE rises, China has already announced significant export restrictions.

    It is estimated that already in 2014 a global production shortfall of 40 000 tonnes of REE will exist. What possible short-term measures is the Commission proposing to take regarding REE, in accordance with the pillars set out in the European Raw Materials Initiative (RMI)?

    How does the Commission intend to deal with the sensitive REE issue in its regular dialogue with China and within the trade and economic cooperation agreement and the ongoing negotiations for the EU China partnership and cooperation agreement? What is the state of play within the WTO? What steps has the EC taken, along with its partners, to establish alternative sources of REE and minimise the supply risk for European industry?

    Has the Commission considered securing long-term trade agreements with other countries and regional organisations which produce REE, such as Latin-American countries, Australia and Canada?

    Given that REE are necessary not only for high-tech appliances and green technologies but also for critical medical and defence applications, is the Commission considering the possibility of setting up a European stockpiling scheme for these materials (following similar moves by the US, Japan and Korea) in order to enable adequate REE supply and price stability? What are the prospects for REE recycling in the EU? Will REE substitution play an important role in the next research FP?

    How does the Commission plan to encourage EU REE companies to redevelop and exploit other sources within the EU and in Greenland? What action does the Commission plan to take to ensure that extraction of rare earths in developing countries is undertaken in a fully transparent manner and with due consultation of local communities?

    Lena Ek Sweden - 28 February 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements (O-000043/2011/rev.1)Same answer
    See Marielle De Sarnez
    Gaston Franco France Union pour un Mouvement Populaire 27 July 2011 European strategy to solve the issue of the EU's supply of rare earth metals Answer
    (E-007470/2011) On 5 July 2011, the World Trade Organisation ruled that China had broken international rules by restricting exports of raw materials, and in particular of the rare earth metals over which it has a monopoly.

    This decision raises the related issue of the legal or illegal export of electronic waste from developed to developing countries. Electrical and electronic equipment contains a number of strategic metals (rare earth metals), and exporting waste equipment of this kind serves only to divert these resources away from Europe.

    Moreover, recycling companies in Europe are not sufficiently involved in recycling this type of waste. There are two related reasons for this: there is insufficient knowledge of the techniques required to recycle this type of equipment and, as a result, considerable investment is needed not only in research but also to provide the necessary facilities.

    Two documents already aim to develop the possibilities for recycling this waste in the EU: the WEEE directive and a forthcoming Parliament resolution on the raw materials strategy. However, these documents do not focus explicitly on this type of problem.

    • What strategy does the Commission intend to adopt in this area?
    • Does the Commission intend to encourage companies in Europe to recycle rare earth metals by introducing more stringent legislation on the recycling of waste electronic equipment, which will then act as an incentive, and/or by allocating funding in this area?

    There is no question that efficient recycling of this kind calls for networking and innovation partnerships. Is the Directorate-General for the Environment working in partnership with the Directorate-General for Enterprise on this issue?

    Given the differences in the circumstances affecting the various metals (existence and environmental impact of recycling plants, existing metal deposits, environmental impact of extraction), does the Commission intend to conduct an environmental and economic impact assessment in order to establish the EU's recycling priorities for each of the waste streams in question?

    • With a view to finding a solution, even if only a partial one, to the issue of securing the EU's supply of rare earth metals, does the Commission intend to propose the reopening of abandoned mines?
    • Does the Commission intend to make ecodesign a priority with a view to reducing dependence on rare earth metals?
    Fiona Hall United Kingdom Liberal Democrats Party 28 February 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements Same answer
    See Marielle De Sarnez
    Andreas Mölzer Austria Freiheitliche Partei Österreichs 11 November 2010 China's high-tech trap — rare earths Answer
    (E-9362/2010) ‘Rare earths’ such as gallium or yttrium are essential for building many of the technologies of the future, from the iPhone to wind farms, x-ray machines, flat screens and hybrid cars. Of these much-sought-after metals, 95 % is imported from China, which since 2005 has been reducing exports and allegedly intends further to reduce the quotas for 2011 and increase export duties to 25 %.

    In the last decade, world trade has been flooded with these metals from China at unbeatably cheap prices because of lax environmental protection measures and low wages, until the producers in other regions — China after all has only 30–60 % of the world’s reserves — had to acknowledge defeat and the machines, patents and know-how migrated to the Land of the Rising Sun.

    Years ago Beijing secured for itself the rights to deposits in Central Asia and Africa (for example for ‘interest-free’ credit), to achieve a near-monopoly and thus since 2005 it has been able to dictate prices. Although the policy of ecologically correct mining is against rapid exploitation, these earths are described in the Chinese media as a ‘21st century economic weapon’.

    1. Is the Commission endeavouring to initiate a WTO procedure in this regard?
    2. What strategies are available or planned at European level to deal with a potential scarcity of these rare raw materials?
    3. Is it possible to obtain them by recycling discarded components?
    4. To what extent is EU financial support used to fund research projects on possible alternative raw materials?
    5. Is there a common plan, possibly including third countries, to prevent China from buying up mining rights in other regions such as Brazil, Greenland or India?
    Aldo Patriciello Italy Il Popolo della Libertá 3 March 2011 Rare earth elements Answer
    (E-001815/2011) So-called rare earth elements are a group of 17 chemical elements in the periodic table, contained in various minerals extracted from the earth. They are of growing strategic importance for European industry, since they are essential for the production of many technological products, such as laptops, iPads, hybrid cars and renewable energy production systems (wind energy, etc.).

    The rare earth elements industry is, in fact, a Chinese monopoly, since the Asian giant has a production quota of nearly 97 % of the market and directly controls one third of the world's deposits. It could become complicated to gain access to rare earth elements in future if China, the United States and other countries manage to gain control over other deposits (e.g. in Africa).

    In December 2010 the Chinese government announced that in 2011 it would make greater cuts to exports of rare earth elements than in the previous year. It was stated that the possible reduction of exports was for environmental reasons, but the cuts will have a major impact on international markets.

    Can the Council say whether this matter was discussed at the meeting held in Brussels on 4 February 2011? How will the issue of the supply of rare materials be addressed under the current Presidency, given that the Hungarian Presidency has included energy among its priorities? Moreover, what action does the Council plan to take at the World Trade Organisation to ensure that European companies have reliable and sustainable access to these materials?

    Aldo Patriciello Italy Il Popolo della Libertá 18 February 2011 Rare earth Same answer
    (E-001498/2011)
    1. ‘Rare earth elements’ are a group of 17 elements in the periodic table which are contained in various minerals extracted from the earth and are of growing strategic importance to European industry as they are essential for the production if many technological products, such as laptops, iPads, hybrid vehicles and renewable energy production systems (e.g. wind farms).
    2. In practice, China enjoys a monopoly of the rare earth sector as this huge country has a production rate of around 97 % of the market and directly controls a third of world reserves. Access to rare metals could in future become complicated if China, the United States and other countries succeed in controlling other reserves (e.g. in Africa).
    3. In December 2010, the Chinese Government announced that in 2011 cuts in rare earth exports could be larger than the previous year. It sought to justify this decision to reduce exports, which will have a considerable impact on international markets, on environmental grounds.
    Will the Council state whether this matter was raised at the meeting held in Brussels on 4 February 2011? How will the issue of supplies of rare materials be addressed during the current six-month period, given that the Hungarian Presidency has included energy as one of its priority issues? What action will the Council take at WTO level to ensure that European companies have secure and sustainable access to such materials?
    Paul Rüig Austria Österreichische Volkspartei 11 February 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements Answer
    See Daniel Caspary
    Nikolaos Salavrakos Greece Popular Orthodox Rally - G. Karatzaferis 31 March 2011 Market in rare earth Answer
    (E-003032/2011) Technological developments have opened up the market in rare earth minerals which, according to the website inprecor.gr, consist of a group of seventeen minerals with unique properties, which are used on an increasingly massive scale in innovative high-tech industries and in producing ‘clean energy’.

    The dependence of industrialised societies on rare earth is growing. In addition, the limited availability of these minerals is significantly increasing their price over time. China, which has very substantial deposits of rare earth, is restricting exports in order to be able to export finished products.

    As the above website also states, according to US Geological Survey (USGS), Beijing holds between 40% and 50% of global reserves. There are confirmed reserves of rare earth in many countries such as the United States, Australia, Canada, Kazakhstan and Vietnam and African countries. However, in 2010, 97% of the 125,000 tonnes of rare earth oxides mined in the world came from China.

    The Commission group of experts published a report on 17 June 2010 which put the issue on solid foundations, but developments are ongoing and it is important not to be left behind.

    In view of the above, will the Commission say:

    • What moves has it made to secure alternative markets for rare earth?
    • Has the likelihood of these minerals being found within the EU been considered? Has there been any feedback from Member States on this issue?
    • What progress has been made in cooperation with African countries to exploit their minerals?
    Marietje Schaake Nederland Democraten 66 28 February 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements Same answer
    See Marielle de Sanchez
    Birgit Schnieber-Jastram Germany Christlich Demokratische Union Deutschlands 11 February 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements Answer
    See Daniel Caspary
    Sergio Paolo Francesco Silvestris Italy Il Popolo della Libertá 11 January 2012 Rare earths Answer
    (E-012579/2011) So-called rare earths — minerals that are essential for the hi-tech industry in order to build computers, cell phones and other technological products — are known to be increasingly the subject of speculation. Although these minerals are not listed on the Stock Exchange, they are still affected by strong price fluctuations, mostly for political and strategic reasons.

    China, the largest producer of rare earths, has recently set a quota on exports of these minerals, which has led to an increase in prices.

    One of these minerals, europium, is used for printing our currency, the euro.

    Can the Commission say what measures it intends to take in order to ensure greater price stability and security in the supply of these resources?

    Catherine Soullie France - 9 April 2010 European energy independence (the issue of Neodymium) Answer
    (E-2237/2010) The People's Republic of China is about to launch a multi-annual plan (2010-15) to significantly limit the export quotas for ‘rare metals’, which can be found in low energy light bulbs, hybrid car engines and wind turbines.

    However, nearly 60 % of rare metal reserves are found in China, a country which thus accounts for more than 90 % of neodymium production, which is essential for the operation of wind turbines. The European wind power industry is therefore totally dependent on a non-EU country for this type of production. As the current economic crisis has led to a decline in global demand, China has decided to reduce its exports in order to raise prices (the price of neodymium fell from USD 60 per kilogram in 2007 to USD 20 in September 2009).

    How then does the EU intend to remedy its increasing dependence on this type of production? Is its energy independence not in danger, bearing in mind that a number of wind turbine construction projects are currently under consideration in EU countries?

    Catherine Soullie France - 9 April 2010 European energy independence (the issue of Neodymium) Answer
    (E-2236/2010) The People's Republic of China is about to launch a multi-annual plan (2010-15) to significantly limit the export quotas for ‘rare metals’, which can be found in low energy light bulbs, hybrid car engines and wind turbines.

    However, nearly 60 % of rare metal reserves are found in China, a country which thus accounts for more than 90 % of neodymium production, which is essential for the operation of wind turbines. The European wind power industry is therefore totally dependent on a non-EU country for this type of production. As the current economic crisis has led to a decline in global demand, China has decided to reduce its exports in order to raise prices (the price of neodymium fell from USD 60 per kilogram in 2007 to USD 20 in September 2009).

    How then does the EU intend to remedy its increasing dependence on this type of production? Is its energy independence not in danger, bearing in mind that a number of wind turbine construction projects are currently under consideration in EU countries?

    Michael Theurer Germany Freie Demokratische Partei 28 February 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements (O-000043/2011/rev.1)Same answer
    See Marielle De Sarnez
    Ionannis A. Tsoukalas Greece Nea Demokratia 11 February 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements Answer
    (O-000036/2011) See Daniel Caspary
    Ionannis A. Tsoukalas Greece Nea Demokratia 8 November 2010 Rare earth elements Answer
    (P-9420/2010) Further to Mr Oettinger's answer to Question E-3608/2010 on rare earth elements and bearing in mind:
    • the restrictions on exports of rare earth elements to Japan imposed by China last month owing to the territorial dispute between the two countries;
    • that some German high-tech companies are already facing their first shortages in rare earth elements, while at the same time coming under pressure from Chinese officials to increase their investments in China if they wish to have access to rare minerals;

    Will the Commission say:

    1. How does it judge ongoing developments from the point of view of EU access to supplies of rare earth elements? Does it consider these developments alarming?
    2. What communications has it had with the Chinese authorities, in particular following the charges made in the international press about the unofficial embargo imposed on the EU and the US? Will it make available the correspondence on this matter?
    3. What actions does it intend to take to protect the interests of European companies facing shortages?
    4. The US has a special Critical Metals Task Force in the US Department of Energy. Will the Commission set up a European task force on these lines?
    Ionannis A. Tsoukalas Greece Nea Demokratia 25 May 2010 Rare earth elements Answer
    (E-3608/2010) China possesses the largest reserves of rare earth elements in the world, at 57 %, and controls approximately 97 % of the market in these elements. Rare earth elements, such as europium, dysprosium, terbium, yttrium, thulium, and lutetium are critical to hundreds of high-tech applications, and key to the emergence of green technology, such as the new generation of wind-powered turbines, plug-in hybrid vehicles, permanent magnet generators and compact fluorescent light bulbs.

    The Chinese government has reduced the amount of rare earths that can be exported and is currently preparing to further tighten its control over the export of these minerals, thereby forcing foreign companies to move their high-tech factories and research centres to China to circumvent quotas, whilst ensuring for its own high-tech industries a significant competitive edge over rivals in Asia, Europe and the US. China benefits from the technology transfer, while the rest of the world lacks both the valuable raw materials and the know-how to process them.

    In addition, the renewable energy business in China is booming to record levels and will continue to do so. In 2009, China proceeded to overtake the US, Germany, Spain and Denmark in becoming the world’s largest wind turbine producer, with one third of the 157.9 GW total worldwide installations being in China.

    Given the rapid growth of green technology in China and the fact that green energy technology is expected to become the largest consumer of rare earth elements in the future, I should like to ask the Commission:

    1. How does it assess the ever-increasing competition from China in the green energy technology sector?
    2. How does it assess the increasing dependence of the EU on China for the supply of rare earth elements? Does it think that the EU could be trading an oil and natural gas dependence for a ‘green tech’ dependence?
    3. What research initiatives and measures are being taken in the EU to ensure alternative methods of obtaining/extracting rare earth elements? Is the EU considering the option of recycling rare earth elements from old equipment?
    4. What research is being undertaken in the EU to find alternative raw materials that could potentially replace the rare earth elements used in the green technologies?
    Niki Tzavela Greece Popular Orthodox Rally - G. Karatzaferis 21 March 2011 Securing Europe's supply of rare earth elements Answer
    (E-002632/2011) Rare earths have become increasingly important in manufacturing sophisticated products. In 1990, rare earths were produced by at least 14 countries, with the United States being the largest rare earths producing nation. Nowadays all countries, no matter how significant their deposits of rare earths are, largely rely on Chinese imports.

    During the 30th EU-China Interparliamentary Meeting, which took place in Beijing, Wuhan and Chengdu (31 October to 5 November 2010), I asked the Chinese representatives to comment on their position regarding rare earths. In general, they wondered why other countries do not make use of their own resources instead of relying on Chinese exports.

    It is my belief that we should conduct studies and determine our deposits of rare earths, so we can decide whether it is worth exploiting our own resources or seeking partnerships with countries, other than China, with rich raw materials deposits; we should stop relying on a single supply chain. If we decide to use the resources that we possess, we should find a sustainable method of making the most use of these minerals, and support them with a regulatory framework.

    We must bear in mind that, since China meets 95% of the world’s demand for rare earths, and most of the separation and extraction is done domestically, the pollution stays in China as well. From an environmental point of view we should try to diversify our supply of rare earth minerals.

    Does the Commission agree with the aforementioned plan? If not, does it have a plan to secure Europe’s supply of rare earth elements?

Last updated on November 6, 2013