Fabian Demicoli

Consultation: Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package

GRTU has this week attended a consultation session organized
by MEUSAC in conjunction with the MCCAA on the subject in caption.The free
movement of safe consumer products is one of the cornerstones of the European
Union. It is an important pillar of the single market and gives consumers
confidence when purchasing products. The impact of this Proposal will have
positive outcomes on:

Consumers through reinforced confidence that consumer products made
available on the single market are safe.

Economic operators with clearer rules as regards the respective obligation
incumbent on manufacturers, importers and distributors.

Authorities with clear legal framework to enforce general safety
requirement and obligations on economic operators and better identification of
(dangerous) consumer products.

The package, adopted
by the European Commission on February 13, 2013 will be discussed in the
European Parliament and in the Council. It is expected that the new legislation
will come into effect in 2015 or later.

Consumer product safety

This Proposal for a Regulation on consumer product safety
concerns manufactured non-food consumer products. It requires that consumer
products must be "safe", sets certain obligations on economic
operators and contains provisions for the development of standards in support
of the general safety requirement. However, the operation of the proposed
Regulation and its interface with other Union legislation will be significantly
streamlined and simplified whilst maintaining a high level of protection of the
health and safety of consumers.

The proposed Regulation clearly delimits its scope of
application compared to Sectoral Union harmonisation legislation. Whilst the
general principle that all non food consumer products must be safe applies
across the board, the more detailed obligations on economic operators only
apply to those operators that are not subject to corresponding obligations laid
down in harmonising legislation covering a specific product sector. The
Commission envisages drawing up guidance which will help businesses, in
particular small and medium-size enterprises, to identify which legislation applies
to the consumer products they manufacture or distribute.

Market surveillance of products

The Proposal is part of the "Product Safety and Market
Surveillance Package" which also includes a Proposal for a Regulation on
consumer product safety (replacing the GPSD) and a multi-annual action plan for
market surveillance covering the period 2013-2015.

Although harmonisation rules are in place for most products a
good legislative framework is only as effective as those using it allow it to
be. Alongside responsible economic operators, prepared to adapt their methods
and incur the costs necessary to comply with the law, there will always be
those traders who cut corners or deliberately flout the rules
to ‘make a fast buck' or gain a competitive edge.

Market surveillance is
the answer. If high quality legislation, based on a sound evaluation of market
needs is one side of the coin, market surveillance is the other. It should
enable unsafe or otherwise harmful products to be identified and kept or taken
off the market and unscrupulous or even criminal operators punished. It should
also act as a powerful deterrent.

This Proposal aims at
clarifying the regulatory framework for market surveillance in the field of
non-food products. It merges the rules on market surveillance of the GPSD,
Regulation (EC) 765/2008 and many sector-specific pieces of Union harmonization
legislation into a single legal instrument that applies horizontally across all
sectors.

Market surveillance
action by national authorities has important implications for small and
medium-sized enterprises. Consequently, their situation should be taken into
account particularly in relation to action that could impose additional
administrative burdens.

GRTU position

GRTU believes that
consumer confidence is a clear priority for business. We are therefore
supportive of the Commission's goals to ensure a high level product safety for
consumers throughout Europe and to achieve the smooth functioning of the single
market for goods.

In this respect GRTU
welcomes the package on Product Safety and Market Surveillance and supports the
package's aim to streamline EU legislation for product safety. By providing a
common framework for all non-food products and clear responsibilities for every
private and public operator, the Commission will increase legal certainty. We,
as economic operators, welcome this: It will enable us to further strengthen
safety mechanisms. Combined with consistent, fair and effective enforcement,
this will help achieve the goal of placing only safe products on the market.

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