On 17 June 2016, EA took part in a European Commission (EC) event entitled “Single Market for Products: Fresh ideas to unleash the full potential” that was focused on enhancing Mutual Recognition and Market Surveillance.

Together with about 200 participants mainly from the EC, national authorities, business associations and industry, Andreas Steinhorst, the EA Executive Secretary, contributed to the Brussels event during which six workshops (detailed below) were held to discuss the EC’s proposed solutions for improving the single market for products:
Proving and assessing lawful marketing of products in other EU Member States: a more practical approach
– How to make mutual recognition a practical tool for businesses?
– How could SMEs be helped to comply with EU product rules?
– How could market surveillance across borders be strengthened?
– How should controls on imports from third countries be imrpoved?
– What more could we do to deter rogue traders?

The fact that many products launched on the European Market are not in compliance with the product legislations, even with regard to risks for health and environment, is a real concern. The resulting need for a closer cooperation between Member States and their authorities was emphasized. More compliance and better enforcement could also be achieved if national accreditation bodies (NABs) closely collaborate with national authorities, including market surveillance authorities (MSAs), in cases conformity assessment bodies (CABs) as notified bodies (NoBos) are involved. Information from the authorities about non-compliant products or complaints about CABs/NoBos could be important for NABs.

To improve mutua recognition, it was proposed to enhance harmonisation of rules for products, testing procedures and standards. For instance, there is a lack of European legislations in the field of materials in contact with water, for which many requirements (e.g. test procedures) are based on national legislations differing from one country to another – which has a negative impact for many European companies having to fulfil different requirements from various countries.

Applying mutual recognition was also regarded as a difficult task. For instance, there are still barriers in the European single market for protective gloves: a manufacturer produced gloves in accordance with European rules and put the CE mark on the product, whereas it is required in another Member State to remove the CE mark and to test again the gloves according the national rules for this country. Proposed solutions could be clarifying scopes and reasons for justification, increasing transparency across the single market, structuring notifications of decisions, enlarging access to challenge decisions and developing further sharing of best practice examples.

It was stressed that solutions should aim to chase rogue operators without increasing requirements for law-abiding traders. Enforcement procedures from MSAs have to be harmonized to achieve better compliance.

The participants also pointed out that the benefits of mutual recognition and the great success of the EU single market should be much more promoted and visible among businesses and citizens in the EU Member States.

All the proposals discussed in workshops may be considered during the revision of Regulation (EC) 764/2008, which is part of the legislative framework designed to improve the internal market for goods and strengthen the conditions for placing products on the EU market. Indeed, the 17 June event also tackled the public consultation that had been launched on 1 June on the possible revision of Regulation (EC) 764/2008. The online questionnaire to be answered until 30 September 2016 is available at: http://ec.europa.eu/growth/tools-databases/newsroom/cf/itemdetail.cfm?item_id=8831

A further event will be organized in December 2016 in order to discuss the results of this public consultation – to be eventually looked into during two distinct events, one dedicated to mutual recognition, the other to compliance, market surveillance and enforcement.