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May 16, 2007 12:00 AM

Commenting on reports that a majority of EU Governments are willing to continue punishing taxes on imports of energy-efficient light bulbs from China, Liberal Democrats in the European Parliament are slating Council hypocrisy for blocking moves to cut the price of the green light bulbs that they are forcing households to switch to in the next two years.

Sajjad Karim MEP, Liberal Democrat International Trade spokesperson, said:

"It is the height of hypocrisy for the same EU governments who called for an outright ban on energy-wasting light bulbs to then turn around and continue taxing their efficient alternatives to the hilt. Even the Germans, who championed the switch to green light bulbs as EU Presidency, are expected to forsake their liberal values to kowtow to industry pressure from Osram.

"The Commission hasn't even presented its review yet and these governments have made up their minds -- not on the basis of the facts and how this will affect consumers and industry alike -- but on the basis of protectionist industries, unwilling to adapt to the reality of doing business in a globalised world.

"Not that Mandelson has clean hands on this either. Apparently he is putting off presenting his findings until the last minute so that Council deliberations will coincide with the presentation of his recommendations of reform of the EU's Trade Defence Instruments.

"Mandelson is proposing sweeping changes. He will be looking to grease the Council's wheels and I fear that his opposition to the tax on green light bulbs will be the casualty of the expected horse-trading."