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European Commission - Press release

Safe products in the EU Single Market: Commission acts to reinforce trust

Brussels, 19 December 2017

The Commission is today tabling two legislative proposals to make it easier for companies, especially SMEs, to sell their products across Europe, and to strengthen controls by national authorities and customs officers to prevent unsafe products from being sold to European consumers.

Vice-President Jyrki Katainen, responsible for Jobs, Growth Investment and Competitiveness, said: "The Single Market of 500 million consumers is a great EU success story. Today we are removing obstacles, reinforcing trust and allowing our businesses and consumers to make the most of it."    

Internal Market Commissioner Elżbieta Bieńkowska added: "The Single Market is built on trust. Consumers must be able to trust that the products they use are of the same standard wherever they come from; and public authorities must be able to trust that the products on their national markets are safe for their citizens. The breast implant and 'dieselgate' scandals undermined this trust and we must rebuild it with stricter controls across the board. Faulty products have absolutely no place in the EU."

Today's initiatives are designed to improve two aspects of the free flow of goods in the EU:

  • Making it easier to sell a product in another Member State:

The "mutual recognition" principle ensures that products not subject to EU-wide regulation can, in principle, move freely within the Single Market, if they are lawfully marketed in one Member State. This principle should allow manufacturers to sell their products across Europe without any additional requirements. But this is not always working as it should. In practice, companies wishing to sell products such as shoes, tableware or furniture in another Member State often face barriers, delays and extra costs. To make the principle faster, simpler and clearer in practice, the Commission proposes a new Regulation on the Mutual Recognition of Goods. Companies will know if their products can be sold in another EU country in a couple of months, rather than years. They will also be able to use a voluntary declaration to demonstrate that their products meet all the relevant requirements in their country. This will make it easier for authorities of other Member States to assess whether or not mutual recognition should apply. Similarly, a problem resolution mechanism will allow for a faster resolution of disputes between companies and national authorities. Training and exchanges among officials will further improve collaboration and trust among national authorities. This will not prevent national authorities from taking legitimate public policy concerns into account.

  • Strengthen controls by national authorities to ensure that products are safe and comply with the rules:

There are still too many unsafe and non-compliant products sold on the EU market: as many as 32% of toys, 58% of electronics, 47% of construction products or 40% of personal protective equipment inspected do not meet the requirements for safety or consumer information foreseen in EU legislation. This endangers consumers and puts compliant businesses at a competitive disadvantage. The draft Regulation on Compliance and Enforcement will help create a fairer internal market for goods, through fostering more cooperation among national market surveillance authorities. This will include sharing information about illegal products and ongoing investigations so that authorities can take effective action against non-compliant products. The Regulation will also help national authorities to improve checks on products entering the EU market. Since 30% of goods in the EU are imported, the Commission further proposes to reinforce inspections of ports and external borders.

Next steps

The draft Regulations will now be sent to the European Parliament and Council for adoption. Once adopted, they will be directly applicable.

Background

The Single Market, which will celebrate its 25th anniversary in 2018, is one of Europe's greatest achievements, designed to allow goods, services, capital and people to move freely. It offers greater choice and lower prices for consumers and opportunities for professionals and businesses. It enables people to travel, live, work and study wherever they wish. But these opportunities do not always materialise, because Single Market rules are not known, not implemented or simply undermined by unjustified barriers. That is why in 2015, the Commission presented its Single Market Strategy – a roadmap to deliver on President Juncker's political commitment to unleash the full potential of the Single Market and make it the launch pad for European companies to thrive in the global economy. 

Trade in goods accounts for 75% of intra-EU trade and around 25% of the EU's GDP. EU product rules cover the vast majority of all manufactured products in the EU. They have a value of €2,400 billion and are produced or distributed by some 5 million businesses. EU rules allow products to circulate freely across the Union while ensuring a high level of environmental, health and safety protection. For example, EU legislation in areas like toys and chemicals is among the strictest in the world.

Todays' proposals complement other initiatives already put forward to deliver on the 2015 Single Market Strategy: measures for improved protection of intellectual property rights, proposals on e-commerce, guidance on the collaborative economy, steps to modernise the EU's standardisation policy, a Start-up and Scale-up Initiative, measures to give a fresh boost to the services sector and steps to enhance compliance and practical functioning of the EU Single Market.

For More Information

Frequently Asked Questions

Factsheet – Single Market: trading goods across Europe 

Stockshots – Single Market

Proposal for a Regulation on the Mutual Recognition of Goods

Proposal for a Regulation on Compliance and Enforcement

Communication: The Goods Package: Reinforcing trust in the single market

Report on the operation of the Single Market Transparency Directive (Directive 2015/1535)

Report on accreditation 

IP/17/5301

Press contacts:

General public inquiries: Europe Direct by phone 00 800 67 89 10 11 or by email


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