Brussels, 21st February 2008
The European Commission welcomes today’s adoption by the European Parliament of a broad package of measures to facilitate the functioning of the internal market for goods. This will make it easier for companies, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises, to sell their products in the EU whilst increasing the protection of consumers. For industrial products existing market surveillance systems will be strengthened and for the first time aligned with import controls. Accreditation has also been introduced. This is a formal system which may now be used to ensure that conformity assessment bodies (or testing and certification laboratories) provide the high quality services that manufacturers need. The introduction of these measures serves to reinforce the role and credibility of CE marking. Improvements are also proposed for the trade with goods which do not fall under EU-legislation. From now it will also be the duty of a Member State that intends to refuse market access for products that are legally marketed in other Member States to talk to the enterprise and to give detailed objective reasons for any possible refusal, This creates new benefits for entrepreneurs as well as for consumers broadening their choice. It is expected that the Council of the EU will approve the package of measures soon, so it can enter into force next year.
Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry including the internal market for goods, said: “I strongly welcome the support of the European Parliament to give the internal market a new boost, in a way that it creates a win-win situation for enterprises and consumers. While product safety will be strengthened I also expect that consumers will benefit from a much wider choice. The market volume we are talking about is around 1500 billion."
The package strengthens and modernises the conditions for placing a wide range of industrial products on the Community market, as it:
The package also strengthens the internal market of a wide range of other products, which are not subject to EU harmonisation, such as various types of foodstuffs (for example bread and pasta), furniture, bicycles, ladders and precious metals, etc. Together they represent more than 15% of intra EU trade in goods. These products are very often subject to many different national rules laying down the requirements that these products should meet. Until now, the differences between these rules in many Member States discouraged companies, in particular small and medium enterprises, from venturing outside their domestic market because they had to prove that their products which were legally sold in a given Member State comply with technical rules in other Member States. Other companies were obliged to make expensive and often unnecessary adjustments to their products so that they became also more expensive for the consumers.
The package adopted today will eliminate many of these technical obstacles and therefore eases the marketing of goods in other Member States. A national technical rule should no longer prevent that a product already lawfully marketed in one Member State could be sold on the market of another Member State. When a Member State intends to refuse market access, it will have to give precise and detailed objective reasons for doing so and it will have to give the importing company the opportunity to react before a final decision can be taken.
Another novelty is that Product Contact Points will be established in all Member States. They will provide information on national technical rules, so that enterprises, in particular SMEs, can obtain reliable and precise information about the law in force in the Member State where they intend to sell their products.