Changes in the complex law of product safety and market surveillance are brought about by Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 (‘Market Surveillance Regulation’), which generally comes into force on 16 July 2021. It pursues a Europe-wide unified, simplified and clearer design of the requirements for all economic actors. Overall, EU citizens are to be better protected from unsafe products by enabling the competent authorities to implement their powers more efficiently. From the date of entry into force of the new ‘Market Surveillance Regulation’, only products that are safe and comply with the European regulations on product design, i.e. that are EU-compliant, may be placed on the market. The drivers are new business models in online trade to facilitate the import of goods and products from all over the world, the increasing number of market players involved, more complex supply chains and more and more non-European products being offered for sale to end users within the Union.
The new requirements include:
– In future, the mere offering of a product in an online shop to end users resident in the EU will be considered placing on the market. In plain language: A product must already comply with all EU regulations when it is listed on an online interface (e.g. web shop, online platform).
– Fulfilment service providers (e.g. logistics centres of large online retailers) or marketplace operators will also be included in the chain of responsibility in the future and will have a duty to cooperate or confirm product conformity in the case of inspection activities.
– In order for a product to be offered in the EU, a responsible economic operator or authorised representative based in the EU must be appointed.
– The market surveillance authorities are given more rights, especially in the area of e-commerce, with the aim of having online offers blocked or including necessary warnings.
– In addition, the regulation pursues stricter market surveillance of the EU internal market. In order to optimise cooperation and data transfer between customs and market surveillance authorities, a one-stop shop (EU single window) will be established. This should facilitate the implementation of joint enforcement actions between Member States, such as joint investigations or cross-border measures.
The FBDi points out that market players who continue to distribute unsafe products will face market surveillance measures – the product will be removed from the online shop or closure of the online shop – in the future. These measures are likely to increase the density of controls and the risk for suppliers of unsafe or non-compliant products from 16.7.2021, and at the same time ensure more justice for honest traders.
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