Commissioner for Health and Consumer Policy
Adoption of Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package 2013
13 February 2013
Good Morning Ladies and Gentlemen,
As you just heard from Vice-President Tajani, the European Commission adopted today a comprehensive package of proposals to improve product safety in the European Union.
In particular we propose the revision of the legislation underpinning the safety of consumer products and the strengthening of market surveillance in the Member States.
I would like to highlight especially three new elements which are key for consumers.
The first new element concerns labelling and origin.
In order to improve consumer information and the enforcement of safety rules, new labelling requirements are introduced for the identification and traceability of all products:
1. The country of origin and
2. The name and address of the manufacturer will have to appear on all consumer products on the market.
The rules currently envisage different labelling requirements, based on whether a product falls under EU harmonisation legislation or not. Once the new rules enter into force, the rules will be the same for all products.
For example, today toys are regulated and labelled according to specific EU harmonisation legislation, while other products for children, such as beds, highchairs, clothing, soothers (pacifiers or dummys) are not.
Regarding origin, today the country of origin of around 10% of the unsafe products found on the EU market is not known. With the new requirement, dangerous products can be more easily traced back to the source, and cooperation with the market surveillance authorities of the country of origin can help stopping dangerous products from reaching the market.
The principle that all products on the market must be safe remains the cornerstone of product safety.
The second new element in the proposal, is the information that manufacturers of all consumer products will be required to provide to the public authorities on the safety of their products, and more particularly on how they have ensured, throughout the manufacturing process, that their products are safe.
Manufacturers' awareness of their responsibilities is key to ensure and increase the safety of their products for consumers.
The proposed new rules will also facilitate the development of more EU-wide standards on the safety of specific consumer products, which will help businesses and authorities to more easily assess safety and to take out from the market the product that are dangerous for consumers .
The third element of the proposal which I want to highlight as beneficial to consumers is the strengthening of market surveillance.
The proposed new Market Surveillance Regulation eliminates overlaps and inconsistencies and will facilitate the work of Member States' inspectors and enforcement authorities which will rely on a single rulebook and count on enhanced cooperation and information-sharing.
Where an unsafe product is found, the EU-wide alert will still be launched via the successful RAPEX system managed by the Commission.
The power of the Commission to adopt bans on unsafe products should also be strenghtened. For example, today we must renew on a yearly basis the ban on lighters that are dangerous to children. According to our proposal this ban could be adopted with permanent effects.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Let me conclude by stressing that to have a set of rules that benefit at the same time European consumers, businesses and authorities alike, is key for both safety and competitiveness in Europe.
Together with Vice-President Tajani, I therefore very much hope that the European Parliament and the Council will adopt these new Regulations, which are a key action of the Single Market Act II, in 2014, so that they can come into force as soon as possible in 2015.