Sunday, 13 March 2011
Hypocrisy from an EU Commissioner; Why aren’t we surprised?
EU's Mr Lightbulb does bit to save energy by leaving on the lamps outside his luxury home day and night for weeks on end
By George Arbuthnott and Will Stewart
Last updated at 1:23 AM on 13th March 2011
He is the man behind the European Union’s ban on the traditional lightbulb that has caused anger and confusion in the UK’s shops and households.
But it appears that for Latvian Andris Piebalgs energy saving doesn’t start at home.
For Mr Piebalgs, the former European Commissioner for Energy, has left the outside lights burning day and night on his £1.25 million luxury home despite neighbours claiming he has not been seen there for weeks.
The lights are on but no body is home: Neighbours say no one has been living at Mr Piebalg's 1.25million home near Riga for several weeks
Now former communist Mr Piebalgs has been accused of double standards. In 2005 he told this newspaper in an interview that ‘we can all do our bit’ to save electricity.
Nikki Sinclaire, the Independent MEP for the West Midlands, said: ‘This is a classic example of hypocrisy. Here you have someone championing environment law and then disregarding it himself.’
Watt a waster: Lights blaze away outside the home of Mr Piebalgs who is understood to have been several thousand miles away
Bulb: Mr Piebalgs modern lightbulb shines brightly
Mr Piebalgs, 53, earned £1.4 million in salary and perks as the EU Energy Commissioner during his six-year tenure in the job which ended last year as he became EU Development Commissioner.
A Mail on Sunday survey has revealed UK shoppers are bewildered by the vast array of replacement low-energy bulbs of different shapes and sizes, power and prices as a result of Mr Piebalgs’s diktat.
The problems for consumers include many of the low-energy alternatives being far too large to fit into a traditional reading lamp.
And toxic mercury contained in the most common version means councils will not pick them up from the doorstep because of their concerns over the health risk to binmen.
Mr Piebalgs’s modern home is a short distance from the capital Riga in a pleasant village which was a former Soviet summer playground and is now the preserve of Latvia’s wealthy set.
Two hours before dusk yesterday, six lamps were alight on the external walls of the property.
One neighbour said: ‘The half- dozen or so external lights are on day and night.’
Another said: ‘There hasn’t been anyone living there for several weeks.’
According to Mr Piebalgs’s official diary, he has spent the past two weeks 7,000 miles away from his home approving future EU development programmes in the Pacific Islands of New Caledonia, Vanuatu and East Timor.
Light fantastic: Mr Piebalgs campaigned for a ban on traditional lightbulbs that caused anger and confusion in the UK
He was scheduled to return from the trip last Friday. On his official European Commission CV Mr Piebalgs does not mention his Communist Party membership.
At the time he may well have seen it as advantageous to advance his career as a head teacher and education administrator when Latvia was under the Soviet yoke.
Accounts vary over how long he belonged to a party now seen as the main vehicle of oppression of the Baltic country, but one local source said it was ‘at least six years’ in the Eighties.
But his Red past did not stop his career flourishing in the post-Soviet era when he went from being education and finance minister to an eventual senior post in the Riga Foreign Ministry.
He then took a job as a senior bureaucrat in Brussels before becoming Energy Commissioner in 2004 after his tiny state joined the EU.
He was not Latvia’s first choice and his emergence was greeted by some with disapproval.
Even Latvians are angered by his ban on the traditional bulbs, which will not be on sale from next year.
The manager of one electrical shop said the old-fashioned 60W bulb had sold out in Latvia because of frustrations with the new bulbs.
The supply and importation of pearl bulbs used in the UK was banned two years ago.
A spokesman for Mr Piebalgs declined to comment.
However, it is understood the lights are a security measure
Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-1365740/Mr-Lightbulb-does-bit-save-energy--leaving-lamps-outside-luxury-home-day-night-weeks-end.html#ixzz1GV943tS4