The controversial delay was backed by member state experts in a tight vote on Friday. It is the first time that the EU has rolled back an agreed product efficiency measure.
A spokesperson for Coolproducts, an energy efficiency campaign group, said that the delay, implemented following heavy industry lobbying, will wipe out €6.6bn (£4.8bn) in energy savings for consumers.
The phase-out of class D halogen light bulbs was due to take effect from September next year, completing a 2009 measure aimed at taking inefficient non-directional light bulbs off the EU market.
The European Commission proposed to postpone the final stage based on industry’s concern, backed by some member states, that LED technology would not be ready to replace halogen lamps by 2016.
The commission argued that switching to energy-efficient lamps in 2018 would still save the equivalent of Portugal’s annual electricity consumption each year and cut CO2 emissions by 15.2m tonnes by 2025.
But recent studies have shown that efficient LED bulb replacements are already available on the market, with some models at price and quality levels only expected by 2025. The lighting industry rejectedthis research.
“[The development of] alternative technologies takes time to be fully realised – and then to subsequently be widely available on the market,” said Diederik de Stoppelaar of LightingEurope, an industry association. The industry called the 2018 phase-out date an “acceptable compromise” reiterating that it would have preferred a ban in 2020.
But Stamatis Sivitos of Coolproducts said industry had “watered down the original law, then come back calling for more delays using old data and scare tactics on timid governments”.
In the mean time if you need to replace any of your existing lights we can arrange for an electrician.