After the wrong shape banana and the Eurosausage, EU bureaucrats are interfering unnecessarily in yet another type of product and, in this case, it is no myth. If the proposed regulations for vacuum cleaners come into force as planned next year, they could hugely frustrate anyone trying to clean their home. Presented initially as eco regulations, the proposals now go way beyond the simple premise of reducing the power consumption of vacuum cleaners; they embrace issues such as noise and will limit performance using unrealistic criteria.

When it comes to judging performance, the proposals are limited in their scope and the emphasis is on ‘pick up’ performance in conditions that are unrepresentative of the real world. Usability is completely ignored and, sadly, the ease with which the cleaning head can be pushed across the floor appears to be overlooked by the proposed regulations. Already there are a number of cylinder cleaners with floor heads that ‘stick’ to the floor to compensate for lower power so are hard to operate as a consequence.

The tests used to judge performance are very much skewed towards cylinder models; the regulations associated with noise also favour cylinders. When assessed for noise, many upright vacuum cleaners will be unable to compete because they have more moving parts so are inherently more noisy, although still quite acceptable to the human ear. What is overlooked is that they do a better job due to the fact that the rotating brush lifts the pile and with it the dirt.

Quite simply, the proposed regulations are not well framed. Consequently, there is the very real possibility that the vacuum cleaners of the future will not deliver the performance and ease of use consumers are entitled to. Furthermore, the regulations will limit manufacturers’ creative design possibilities.