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, "21":"Product safety In this feature l responsibilities l traceability l procedures Joined-up thinking on surveillance and safety Robert Chantry-Price gives a more detailed view of the new EU provisions for product safety E The new regulatory structure The key changes Impact on trading standards U proposals to improve the safety of consumer products, and to step-up market surveillance concerning non-food products, are currently on hold while the EU resolves how to proceed. A fundamental difference of opinion among the member states has erupted over whether or not the country of origin of a product must be included on the packaging. Iunderstand that the Commission has launched a study into this matter and that it wont be concluded until early 2016 at the earliest! When they do come into force, the new regulations will replace the current General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC) and the Food Imitating Products Directive (87/357/EEC), and also make modifications to a number of other existing provisions. The title of the new package is likely to be called the Consumer Product Safety Regulation (CPSR) and the Market Surveillance of Products Regulation (MSPR) and should strengthen consumer protection and create a more level playing field for businesses. The package will ensure that responsible manufacturers do not suffer unfair competition from products that do not comply with European safety or environmental rules. It will also extend the powers of market surveillance authorities. The new regulatory structure In mid-April 2014, the European Parliament voted in favour of these new rules. The European Commissions officials believe any further amendments to the draft regulations are likely to be minor, and that, except in regard to the labelling over the country of origin, the major changes have now been agreed by the Member States. The UKs view is that labelling products with their country of origin isnt a safety issue and, therefore, this information should be omitted from the requirements being placed on economic operators. Other Member States considered that this information improves thetraceability of products, particularly those that are found to be unsafe. For the time being, the UK and its allies have lost this debate. Asmatters stand, it seems that products will be required to include country of origin. Click each icon to the left to continue reading The key changes The most important changes approved by the European Parliament to date are: l Clearer responsibilities, and more coherent rules across all productsectors for manufacturers, importers and distributors, toensure the safety of consumer products. The EU believes this willlower compliance costs for businesses, especially small and medium-size enterprises l A single set of coherent rules for market surveillance, providing more effective tools for the national surveillance bodies, so they can take action against dangerous and nonThe EU compliant products. This means safe and and compliant products will have a higher level central of protection, leading to greater consumer government will confidence in the internal market be placing l Improved traceability of consumer increased products, enabling swift and effective responsibilities on responses to safety problems. To achieve the trading this, manufacturers and importers will have standards service to ensure products (or their packaging) to check that indicate the country of origin. For products consumer manufactured in the EU, companies can state either a particular EU country or products are safe simply the EU l The creation of a more cooperative system of market surveillance across the EU. Better coordination of product-safety checks will eliminate unfair competition from dishonest or rogue operators l Streamlined procedures for the notification of dangerous products, and synergies between the existing Rapid Alert Information System (Rapex) and the Information and Communication System for Market Surveillance (ICSMS) What impact will it have on trading standards? The work of trading standards officers (TSOs) will be affected by the creation of a more cooperative and comprehensive system for market surveillance of consumer products across the EU, and by the streamlining of procedures for the notification of dangerous products. The requirements of the new product safety package align closely with those introduced over the past few years through the new approach directives, which cover consumer products such as toys, pyrotechnic articles, and personal protective equipment. Producers and importers and, to a lesser extent, distributors will have to maintain a technical file, which, among other things, will include details of: l The risk assessments on the product during the design manufacturing stages, and while it is being used by consumers l The tests conducted on the product to ensure it is safe l Any complaints received about the safety of the product Under the new regime, whenever a TSO investigates a product, the economic operator should be able to provide a much better picture ofwhether the relevant steps have been taken to check a product is safe to place on the market and whether it is proving to be a hazard toconsumers. In short, the EU and central government will be placing increased responsibilities on the trading standards service to check that consumer products are safe but, you might ask, how are these additional tasks to be funded when local authorities are almost certain to face further belt tightening measures after the elections later this year? Thats a question for the politicians to answer after all, they are theones initiating the legislation, and providing TSOs with a more onerous workload. Credits Published You might also like Robert Chantry-Price is a joint lead officer Tuesday 6 January, 2015 New products safety net January 2015 for product safety for TSI. Images: Robert Kneschke / Shutterstock To share this page, click on in the toolbar "