New proposed EU legislation on product safety and market surveillance

New proposed EU legislation on product safety and market surveillance

The EU commission proposes a new Regulation on consumer product safety, replacing the Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety (GPSD) and Directive 87/357/EEC on food-imitating products, further a proposal for a single Regulation on market surveillance for products, covering the period 2013-15, as well as a multi-annual action plan in which the Commissions will provide 20 concrete actions to be undertaken over this period of time

Among the documents there is a report on the implementation of Regulation No. 765/2008 describing the requirements for market surveillance relating to the marketing of products. The report entails the Commission’s findings and those are reflected in the proposed set of new rules.

Of interest seems the proposed measure in the draft Regulation on consumer product safety, namely the obligation to indicate the country of origin on products, commonly known as “made in” labelling. This rule would oblige manufacturers or importers to ensure that the country of origin is displayed on all products sold within thje EU, no matter if the product is originating from an EU or non-EU country. Where the size and/or nature of products do not allow for the indication of origin to bge provided on the product, the indication will be required on the package or an accompanying document. For products manufactured in a Member State, the” made in“ labelling may refer either to the EU or to a particular state as the place of origin. Furthermore the draft Regulation would also require the name and address of the manufacturer to bge provided on all consumer products placed on the EU market.

“Made in “ labelling is mandatory in other jurisdictions, and the EU remains among the economic areas which still do not manufacturers and importers to provide origin labelling on consumer products. Efforts to change this fact date back to 2005 by previous proposal from Trade Commissioner Peter Mandelson, but it was buried by the Council of Ministers where especially the southern countries were in favour and several northern countries were vehemently opposed to it. The European Parliament adopted its position in October 2010 in favour of a “made in” labelling by a clear majority.

Insiders claim that Enterprise and Industry Commissioner Antonio Tajani had a hard time to keep the “made in” ,measure in the draft regulation, because several other Commissioners, including Trade Commissioner Karel De Gucht wanted the draft measure removed. Denmark and the Netherland have expressed also concerns in this respect, however French and Italian ministers supported the Commission’s legislative package and there, the enhancement of market surveillance authorities is praised when tracing dangerous products.

Additionally, the draft product safety Regulation will also require that manufacturers provide, on request, information on the safety of their products to the public authorities, in particular on how they have ensured throughout the manufacturing process that their products are safe.

The package further imposes the obligations on distributors, such as wholesalers and retailers. Distributors will have to check that the manufacturer or importer has duly labelled the consumer product before selling it downstream or offering it for sale at their stores.

The reason for the proposed regulatory framework on product safety and market surveillance is based upon the fact that presently several items of legislations can be applied to non-food products. In addition to the application of the GPSD and Regulation 765/2008 sector legislation for “harmonised products” such as toys, chemicals and cosmetics also is in force. The overlapping legislation is offering a complexity, leading to the fact that for e3xample children’s clothing, pacifiers and highchairs are actually excluded from the harmonised product list. In the new legislative package all consumer products are subjected to the new labelling rules. The RAPEX, the EU Rapid Alert Information System for dangerous products currently within the GPSD will be moving in the future to the proposed market surveillance Regulation and RAPEX and the Information and Communication System for Market Surveillance procedures will be streamlined. It will be easier to remove dangerous products from the EU market, because the EU Commission, based on the seriousness of the situation, will be entitled to prohibit the sale of products, and in some cases to withdraw such products from the market.

The Package is now discussed by the EU Parliament and the Council and is expected to come into effect in 2015.

Virginia’s Reflections

The specific new proposed EU legislative package is quite similar to the one existing in the USA and their involved government agencies. It is certainly a step forward to the EU consumers and a less complex process applying to all consumer goods an enhancement of product safety. It will be interesting to see how the package will survive the EU Parliament process and the final decisions of the EU Council.

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