[From] Saturday [September 1], it will be illegal to import or produce traditional incandescent light bulbs in EU member states. The move has upset consumers and many environmentalists, but it serves to highlight the EU’s democratic deficiencies.
From the front, the item the defendants dragged into the courtroom looked like an ordinary mobile heater: a vertical, slightly ribbed metal plate with a power cable. Only when seen from the back did the device reveal itself to be a battery of interconnected 100-watt light bulbs. Packed closely together, the bulbs heat the metal plate, which in turn radiates heat into a room.
This was the way the “Electric Resistance Society” was trying to circumvent European Union bans and bring traditional incandescent light bulbs back to Europe. It argued that there could be no legal objection to selling them as miniature heating units for homes.
But the judges at the administrative court in the western German city of Aachen were not impressed by Siegfried Rotthäuser and Rudolf Hannot’s attempt to outsmart the system. The judges prohibited the sale of 40,000 “Heatballs” seized by customs authorities that the two engineers had had made in China. In fact, the “Heatballs” were nothing but ordinary tungsten light bulbs. And that makes them hot goods since the European Commission issued Regulation No. 244/2009. The regulation calls for a gradual ban on sales of all traditional incandescent light bulbs. The first to go were 100-watt bulbs, on Sept. 1, 2009, and it will cover all remaining bulbs as of Sept. 1, 2012.
The reason is that incandescent light bulbs waste 95 percent of the energy they consume. If the EU’s climate objectives are to be met, the reasoning goes, Europeans can no longer afford to use such energy-gobbling devices. As a result, the classic — and popular — light bulbs have been gradually disappearing from store shelves in the EU.