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Dyson picks fight with German industry

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Dyson picks fight with German industry
James Dyson at a 2013 product launch in Hamburg. Photo: DPA
17:14 CEST+02:00
British engineer James Dyson has said that Britain should leave the EU over a dispute about vacuum cleaner efficiency regulations - just when German industry wants to hold the UK close.

The bagless vacuum inventor is not himself affected by the regulations, as none of his machines use more than the 1,400 watts designated by the European Commission (EC) as the upper limit for a domestic unit.

“When the legislation was first mooted, we were campaigning for lower limits – in fact, we wanted a 700 watt limit,” Dyson told the Telegraph.

“The other manufacturers held it at 1,600 watts... but we were the only manufacturer campaigning for small motors,” he continued.

Dyson then found himself outvoted in the industry body by German vacuum builders, who set lax rules on power use tests to compensate for their cleaners' weaknesses. Models with large motors and which use bags lose suction when filled with dust.

“If German companies go on dominating European legislation, that's a very good reason not to be in Europe. If they're not going to listen to us, we shouldn't be in there,” Dyson said.

Dyson's comments were published on the same day that German Industry Federation (BDI) director Markus Kerber published an article in the Handelsblatt business newspaper arguing for Britain to remain a part of the Union.

“As central European national economies, Great Britain and Germany must work closely together,” Kerber wrote. “Both economies are tightly bound into European value chains.”

Kerber recalls the value to the British economy of belonging to the world's largest single market for attracting inward investment. But he also calls on policy makers to “work towards a Union which is clever and not just 'closer' – and where all member states can find their place.”

“A German-British consensus on this point would make a Europe-wide compromise much simpler.”

A BDI spokesman contacted by The Local pointed out that Britain and Germany have different interests to protect when it comes to European regulation.

“The UK has a different position because industry's share of GDP there is much smaller, around 10 percent compared with 25 percent in Germany.”

“Maybe in a comparable way, London as a banking centre is far ahead and weighs more heavily in such questions from the British side.”

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