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, "20":"Conference In this feature new legislative framework l l market surveillance l consumer rights New products safety net TS Today s Rob Coston presents his understanding of what new EU laws on product safety and surveillance mean for the UK, after a visit to Electrical Safety Firsts Product Safety Conference A whole range of regulations are already in place to protect consumers in the UK and the European Union (EU). The evidence shows that they work well when combined with appropriate enforcement. However, a variety of new rules, which promise to make the job of trading standards officers easier by clarifying and consolidating the existing laws, are on their way. When it comes to consumer protection, Phil Earl, head of product regulation at the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills, says: Legislation alone can never deliver everything we want, but it is certainly an important plank in achieving our aims. There is a lot of truth in his statement. The laws on consumer protection have served their purpose well and, as a result, many have remained relatively unchanged since they were first enacted. Yet legislation currently awaiting ratification should help businesses to understand their responsibilities, and assist with the second plank required to protect consumers properly enforcement. Trading standards will have to operate within these new laws, which are presented below. The good news is that the regulations appear to cut a lot of red tape, clarify powers and streamline enforcement so they should make life easier for officers, as well as afford additional protection to the public. 1. Product safety and market surveillance package This package contains a regulation on consumer product safety (CPSR), and one on the market surveillance of products (MSR). It was adopted by the European Commission in early 2013, is currently passing throughthe European Parliament and Council, and will probably come into force in 2015. The CPSR is intended to complete Europes legislation in this area. Itwill: LISTING THE L AWS The British government and European bodies are bringing in new regulations that will clarify different aspects of consumer protection. The most far reaching of these are: Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package l Maintain the key requirement that products must be safe for consumers l Remove overlaps with other laws covering specific sectors l Emphasise product identification and traceability l Align obligations for economic operators with the New Legislative Framework for the Marketing of Products l Simplify the creation of new European standards for product safety Consumer Rights Bill Low Voltage Directive The EU Commission is also keen to improve market surveillance procedures, which have not kept up with the establishment of the free movement of goods across Europe. The package contains a multi-year plan for market surveillance. The MSR will also: l Reduce the number of overlaps in current EU regulations l Cut the number of laws containing market surveillance rules l Make the legislation more user-friendly l Attempt to ensure that the rules are the same across member states 2. The Consumer Rights Bill This is currently going through the House of Lords. Subject to the approval of Parliament, it will come into force on 1October 2015. For further details, see ourin-depth article on the subject from the December 2014 issue of TS Today. The arrival of this rationalised, user-friendly legal framework could be an excellent opportunity for trading standards to communicate with local manufacturers and other businesses about their responsibilities 3. The New Legislative Framework and the Low Voltage Directive Many EU directives were made decades ago and, since then, products and communications technology have changed. In addition, lots of different pieces of legislation made by national governments is making international trade within the EU more difficult for businesses. The European Commission has, therefore, been pushing to simplify and clarify the rules, and make them more uniform across member states using a new legislative framework. The Low Voltage Directive 2006 protects consumers who buy electrical equipment within certain voltage limits. It is currently being aligned with the new legislative framework. When this version comes into force probably in early 2016 it will: l Combine, in one piece of legislation, all powers relating to electrical TIME FOR CHANGE Product Safety First time for change, was a conference staged by Electrical Safety First in London last November. It covered a range of issues, from product safety legislation to trends and emerging issues. This years event had a special focus on product recalls and changing consumer behaviours. goods and recalls. This will make enforcement more straightforward l Ensure improved product safety for electrical goods. Economic operators, such as importers and retailers, will bear more responsibility for selling faulty, mislabelled, or otherwise unsafe products. As a result, rogues should be less willing to bring in cheap electronic goods from countries such as China, and to sell them on without carrying out appropriate risk assessments l Increase the scope of consumer protection in this area to cover reasonable foreseeable use. If consumers are likely to use a device for something that is not its stated purpose, then the device must be safe for the additional purpose An excellent opportunity Speaking about the imminent introduction of these new laws at the Electrical Product Safety Conference, held in London in November, Christine Heemskerk, TSIs lead officer for product safety, said: We believe that the proposed and current legislation will increase productsafety. Beyond the positive contribution that the laws themselves will make, there is also a strategic opening here. The arrival of this rationalised, user-friendly legal framework could be an excellent opportunity for trading standards to communicate with local manufacturers, and other businesses, about their responsibilities, and to inform members of the public of their rights. Credits Published You might also like Rob Coston is a reporter for TS Today. Tuesday 6 January, 2015 Joined-up thinking January 2015 Images: UrbanZone / Alamy To share this page, click on in the toolbar "