The EcoDesign Directive recognizes self-regulation by industry as an alternative to binding legislation. Self-regulation, which can be based on voluntary agreements, is a valid alternative as long as it delivers the policy objectives set out in the legislation faster and in a less costly manner than mandatory requirements.
At EU level, voluntary agreements are concluded between the European Commission and European industry represented by federations. Industry commits itself by an agreement to achieve the policy objectives laid down in the legislation through self-imposed measures. Credible monitoring and reporting mechanisms must prove the trustworthiness of the methodology it uses.
Self-regulation is a substitute to EU legislation which imposes mandatory requirements on industry. However, it does not alter or dilute the policy objectives fixed by the legislator. It offers an alternative method to industry, which is more flexible and cost-effective, to achieve pre-determined environmental performance objectives.
Based on the mandate delivered by the CECIMO General Assembly representing National Machine Tool Associations and their members, CECIMO proposed a Self-Regulatory Initiative to the Consultation Forum. The implementation plan prepared by CECIMO was welcomed by the European Commission which gave the green light to CECIMO to elaborate further on the methodology.
The Commission mandated a preparatory study on machine tools and related machinery to identify and recommend ways to improve the environmental performance of machine tools throughout their lifetime at their design phase, based on the European Commission Methodology for Ecodesign of Energy-using Products (MEEuP).
The Fraunhofer Institute for Reliability and Microintegration IZM and Fraunhofer-Institut für Produktionsanlagen und Konstruktionstechnik (IPK) conducted this EC Product Group Study related to the Ecodesign of Machine Tools. The two-year study covers an analysis of user requirements and best available technologies, as well as the improvement potential of ecodesign measures in terms of life cycle costs, and the economic and market potential of energy-efficient products.
CECIMO, in cooperation with Member Associations and companies, has largely contributed to the preparatory study through its market knowledge and technical expertise. The industry’s contribution has proven to be highly important to make sure that the findings of the study, which will constitute the basis for decision-making at a later stage, reflect the industrial and market realities.
The outcome is a common knowledge base accumulated in the preparatory study. It offers some important information for policy-makers and the industry to guide them in the establishment of a common framework for rules and criteria on the ecodesign of machine tools. However, the preparatory study does not provide all the answers and details which would allow to draft implementing measures.
More information can be found on the Eco Machine Tools website.
The information provided by the study will be used to prepare for subsequent phases, including undertaking an impact assessment on policy options; Those phases are to be carried out by the European Commission.
The study has been completed in summer 2012. In the meantime, CECIMO further elaborated the methodology proposed for the implementation of the SRI.
The European Commission will finally decide whether the machine tool industry is to be regulated by mandatory requirements or self-regulation.