Are the EU environmental proposals for stage lighting the beginning of the end for live music? Not so fast...
‘EU rules mean it’ll be lights out for acts like Beyoncé’, a recent letter to the Guardian reads.
But legitimate concerns don’t always justify rushed conclusions, and some of the industry’s arguments need clarifying.
The rules in question are part of the Ecodesign policy, which gradually removes from the market the most wasteful products by setting standards that demand a certain level of energy performance. The goal is to prevent environmentally damaging products from being sold in Europe, while also cutting energy bills.
While similar rules already apply to most types of lighting, this is not the case for stage lighting.
The European Commission is suggesting regulating them and, like for many other products, it is currently assessing the feasibility of such requirements.
If the study concludes that the impact of the proposed rules may indeed undermine the industry or negatively affect citizens, EU officials will have the opportunity to revise the proposal.
But for market and policy analysts to grant an exemption, an evidence-based and independent assessment is needed.
This is important in order to identify solutions that are in the interest of both citizens and the industry. If the study shows that allowing the entertainment industry to continue using current stage lighting is an option, rules would still be needed to prevent that similar energy-guzzling lights are used improperly to, say, light your garden at night.
Regulating stage lighting may also advance the development of new energy-efficient technology. This is why the rules wouldn’t ban the use of existing lights, but rather the production of those that do not comply with the standards.
Depending on the outcome of the assessment, a compromise could be to have energy labels on all stage lighting rather than Ecodesign requirements. The iconic energy label pulls consumers towards the best products by giving them an impartial A to G ranking. Consumers make better buying choices and manufacturers are rewarded for innovation.
All in all, energy efficiency requirements are the kind of plain, common sense tool that the EU can be proud of.
A recent study in the UK found that, should the UK government scrap such requirements in the aftermath of the country leaving the EU, households could end up paying an extra €100 on their annual electricity bill. This would mostly be due to less efficient home appliances being imported from China.
Despite this, eurosceptics have repeatedly attacked the rules which they regard as a tyrannical move by the EU aimed at interfering with national legislation.
But this is not a black-and-white issue. And if we are to address some of the world’s most pressing challenges, we need both political willingness and common sense.
To all the Beyoncé and music fans: don’t worry, the show will go on.
A shorter version of this post was originally published in the Guardian