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EU fails to close lighting liability loophole

EU fails to close lighting liability loophole, but defends the right to repair

Monday 01 August 2022

The latest of the European Union’s sustainable lighting initiatives have begun to take effect and impact the global lighting industry. This saw a key liability loophole, relating to the separation of online and offline purchases, fail to be addressed. However, the EU’s positive stance on defending the right to repair is a welcome relief.

Why should we still care about EU regulations?

While we in the UK are no longer members of the European Union, regulations that affect companies within the EU will continue to have an effect on us, due to the large quantities of products that are imported into this country, as well as the requirements of other foreign manufacturers to meet those new EU regulations.

According to Statista, between 2011-2020 the UK imported £4.9 billion worth of lighting products from countries in the EU, averaging at almost £500 million per year. This trade accounts for a large proportion of the UK lightning industry, which is currently valued at £2.4 billion per year.

What is the “liability loophole”?

Recently there were changes to the Digital Services Act, which is designed to protect online customers, as opposed to those who buy things in stores or via other offline avenues.

Currently in the EU, wholesale lighting bought online is subject to different regulations from lighting bought offline. This means that where companies fail to meet their mandatory legislative requirements, it is difficult to punish them. This is summarised by Ourania Georgoutsakou of the Lighting Europe Organisation, who writes:

“The Digital Services Act was the key opportunity to adapt the EU rules for digital services to today’s market reality. Our 2021 mystery shopping exercise showed that out of the 30 products proposed by the platform’s algorithms and delivered to us, 77% did not comply with EU mandatory requirements.”

“What is the value of creating legislation on product safety, sustainability, or quality if online there’s no obligation to have an economic actor within the EU jurisdiction who can be held liable?”

Evidently there is a clear issue here. The sustainable lighting initiatives are ambitious, with wide, sweeping changes coming to the industry. But they won’t have much more weight than the paper they’re written on if they cannot be enforced. Moreover, companies who are labelling and certifying products correctly are being punished for doing the right thing, by being forced to compete against companies who do not suffer this extra cost.

This disappointing oversight will certainly affect the reliability of imports coming to the UK from the EU.

What is the right to repair?

Right to repair sounds like something obvious - a customer’s right to repair something they buy. However, it also seeks to ensure that products are designed with their repairability in mind. This encompasses the controversial and shady business practice of ‘planned obsolescence’.

What is ‘planned obsolescence’?

Planned obsolescence is the practice of designing products with a limited lifespan, with no reason other than to force consumers to buy newer versions of that product. This is not a new idea, but recently rose to public consciousness when a series of lawsuits were formed against technology companies, such as Apple.

How does this relate to the EU’s sustainability regulations? Well, the EU is seeking to ensure that the people who buy products are able to repair them. This prevents a large amount of waste through products that are deliberately designed to fail after a certain amount of time, as well as the clear moral implications.

One key tenet of the lighting industry as a whole is our ability to repair and replace our own lights, because we are so dependent upon them. It is good to see that a statement of intent has been made to defend this tenet, as the alternative will punish consumers for their loyalty.

How does Serious feel about right to repair?

It won’t surprise you to hear that we take the right to repair very seriously. Serious Lights are all designed to be repairable, and it is frankly a total disservice to loyal customers to design products with limited lifespans.

We offer comprehensive warranty packages on both our bulbs and our lights, we distribute spare bulbs, and thanks to our excellent repair and servicing team, we are able to maintain lights even after their models are discontinued.

We believe a life-changing light should be built to last.


  1. LED Professional.
  2. Nickel Institute.
  3. Lighting Europe.
  4. EC Europa.
  5. Statistics.
  6. Digital Strategy.


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  • Roger Ryan
    03 Aug 2022

    Very useful information, thanks.

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