The European Commission has recently proposed a strategy to give the internal market a new boost. Agoria is pleased to see that efficient and effective market surveillance is an important part of that plan.

The European Commission has decided to give the internal EU market a fresh impetus in the form of a number of ambitious and pragmatic initiatives listed in an action plan dat which it submitted a few weeks ago. 

No one will dispute that the free movement of goods is one of the finest achievements of the internal market. Regulatory barriers within the EU have been eliminated by imposing regulations on products at European level, or overcome thanks to the principle of mutual recognition.

A new impetus is however necessary. Among other issues, the need to ensure access to the market, on the one hand, and prevent unfair competition by non-compliant products, on the other, remains a huge challenge. For example, did you know that no less than 92% of companies believe that there are non-compliant products in their respective sector? This staggering figure, the result of a public consultation carried out by the European Commission in 2010, is reflected in inspection campaigns by the Member States, such as those for electrical products, which in the period 2010-2013 revealed that some 30% of the products checked did not conform...

Agoria is therefore pleased that, among other aspects, the European Commission’s new strategy places emphasis on better implementation and stronger enforcement of existing legislation. In particular, we welcome the focus on market surveillance actions to keep non-compliant products out of the European market. “There are still too many non-compliant products in circulation in Europe. It is the responsibility of Member States to apply the rules and to ensure that there is fair competition (a level playing field),” stressed CEO of Agoria, Marc Lambotte, during a recent meeting of our member companies with Anneleen Van Bossuyt (N-VA). As an MEP, she is involved in the IMCO (Internal Market Commission) and ITRE (Industry, Research and Energy) and as the author of the report ‘regulation’ for the European Parliament, she is well aware of this issue.

Efficient and effective market surveillance is essential for both a high level of protection for the user (consumers and professional users) and a fair internal market for economic operators. Currently, the market surveillance in Member States is underdeveloped and fragmented. Consequently, operators who do not play by the rules achieve substantial savings on conformity costs, allowing them to offer their products at lower prices than the bona fide competitors who do comply with the legal obligations.

Efficient and effective market surveillance should make it possible to identify unsafe or non-compliant products and remove them from the market, and deter and punish unscrupulous operators. Market surveillance should be able to act as a powerful deterrent. In a single market where goods circulate freely, market surveillance needs to be highly coordinated in order to be able to respond swiftly.

 

Laurent Hellebaut
Agoria, EU Affairs Coordinator