2015 - Ed. 5
EP IMCO Committee supports Gas Appliances Regulation
On 23 April, the Internal Market & Consumer Protection (IMCO) Committee of the European Parliament approved Catherine Stihler’s report on the proposal for a regulation on appliances burning gaseous fuels. IMCO voted on 229 amendments and 4 compromise amendments. First reading negotiations will now start in order for Parliament to adopt the report at a plenary meeting later his year.
ANEC is pleased IMCO adopted several amendments in relation to the prevention of carbon monoxide poisoning. Furthermore, in order to reduce the risk of carbon monoxide poisoning, MEPs inserted a requirement for manufacturers to state in the customer's instructions that any installation or maintenance work of gas appliances should be done by professionals, who will have to be able to certify that the appliances deliver "safe combustion". This is in line with what ANEC sought in its position paper from November 2014. On the other hand, we are disappointed the report fails to make specific reference to the periodic servicing of gaseous appliances. This is a crucial aspect in order to ensure the health and safety of consumers.
The DSM initiative: all for industry?
On 6 May, the European Commission adopted its long-awaited strategy for the Digital Single Market (DSM). The aim of the strategy is to create a single Digital Single Market in Europe as the borderless nature of digital technologies is hindered by the different rules in each EU Member State for telecommunications services, copyright, data protection, or the management of radio spectrum.
One of the strategic priorities is boosting competitiveness through interoperability and standards. However, no mention is made of the benefits of standards for consumers or the consumer interest in standardisation.
ANEC issued a press release responding to the announcement of the initiative. Although we welcome the focus on interoperability, we regret its integrated standards plan will not seek increased consumer protection across borders.
ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, remarked, “If the DSM is to bring added value for consumers, there is need for standards that address issues such as safety, data protection & security, interoperability and – above all - accessibility for all. It is equally vital that standards elaborated for ICT products and services take the consumer view into account”.
Draft AUWP for European Standardisation 2016
In May, ANEC issued a position paper expressing its first views on the draft Annual Union Work Programme (AUWP) for European Standardisation 2016. The draft was submitted by the European Commission to a meeting of the Committee on Standards in April. ANEC commented on previous AUWPs and welcomes the opportunity to submit its views on the new draft. We also comment on the related Rolling Plan for ICT Standardisation as a member of the EC ICT Multi-Stakeholder Platform.
The focus of our comments in the position paper is on proposed actions/standardisation requests of importance to consumers in the AUWP, as well as items that appear uniquely for the moment in the ANEC Work Programme.
Given our understanding that the Commission intends to use this and future AUWPs to address policy issues as well as (more technically oriented) actions, we have invited the Commission to include a proposal to add impetus to discussions among the Commission, Annex III Organisations and European Standardisation Organisations on the improved inclusiveness of weaker stakeholders in the standards development process.
Separately, we have suggested a policy proposal be added that seeks discussion among all actors in the European Standardisation System on the appropriateness of developing (or revising) standards answering a standardisation request (or mandate) in ISO or IEC.
The AUWP 2016 is expected to be adopted by the College of Commissioners before the end of the summer.
ANEC at European Consumer Protection Conference in Riga
ANEC Senior Manager, Chiara Giovannini, spoke at the European Consumer Protection Conference, “Future Priorities of Consumer Policy in Digital Era”, held in Riga on 23-24 April. The aim of the event was to provide contributions to future EU consumer policy and to be a platform for sharing opinions and best practices, gathering representatives from public authorities, consumer and business organisations.
Chiara gave the consumer perspective at the breakout session, “Challenges for enforcing product safety rules in digital era”. She spoke about safety concerns in the global digital market and the need for a better enforcement of EU legislation, as well as strengthened international collaboration between trading blocs. She also stressed the importance of understanding consumers’ behaviour on-line when drafting new legislation and said that ANEC is preparing a research project (survey) on the “collection of complaints data on online shopping services”. As regards “digital products”, Chiara noted that product safety depends not only on mechanical and chemical aspects, but also software interoperability and compatibility.
To watch a recording of the event and the full programme, please visit the dedicated page.
Evaluation of the Toy Safety Directive
At the beginning of May, ANEC was one of the stakeholders interviewed in the context of the evaluation of Directive 2009/48/EC on the safety of toys, being undertaken by the Technopolis Group, EY and YYA for the European Commission. The evaluation aims to achieve the best possible understanding of the Toy Safety Directive in ensuring a high level of safety and in safeguarding a functioning internal market. It also tries to determine whether the effectiveness and efficiency of the Directive could be improved.
ANEC repeated the main points from its July 2014 position paper on the application and effectiveness of the Directive, including the need to significantly strengthen the chemical requirements for toys, regulate impulse noise levels and introduce specific requirements for visibility and legibility of warnings (e.g. a minimum font size) in order to enable the Member States to enforce these requirements in a uniform way.
The publication of the evaluation report is expected by the end of the year.
ANEC comments on M/473 "Design for All" deliverable
In April, ANEC submitted comments on the deliverable D.1.2, “Analysis of main areas of standardization and prioritization of work in standardization in relation to the needs of people with disabilities & older persons”, prepared under Mandate M/473 “Design for All”. This analysis aims at the mapping of barriers with evidence of accessibility problems. Issues linked to the accessibility of the built environment, ICT and transport have been identified as problematic for consumers, as well as problems linked to instructions, labelling, self-services terminals and packaging.
ANEC believes the document shows that a very extensive research has been carried out by the Task Group responsible for the analysis. However, we also submitted a number of detailed comments and expressed some concerns. The first concern concerns the exclusion of barriers in certain areas, and the second the lack of cost/benefit analysis and the impact of increased accessibility on industry as requested by M/473. Thirdly, as the activity aims to cut across other areas and standards in order to ensure they too consider accessibility, it is essential to provide an effective mechanism. The document also fails to reflect contemporary technological developments, such as mobile devices, e-payments, and the Internet of Things.
ANEC comments on updated draft standardisation request on ITS
In April, ANEC commented on the updated draft standardisation request for European standards to support implementation of Intelligent Transport Systems in urban areas. The objective of the request is for the European Standardisation Organisations to prepare a coherent set of standards, specifications and guidelines.
ANEC was first consulted in 2014 and submitted comments on a first draft request last December. In our latest comments, we stress the need for proactive liaison in execution of the ITS standardisation request and the standardisation request M/530 on privacy and personal data protection management. We also stress the importance of the standards in addressing safety requirements, the accessibility of public transport capabilities and information provision.
Directive on the reduction of plastic bags
The text of Directive (EU) 2015/720 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 29 April 2015 amending Directive 94/62/EC as regards reducing consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags (see Ed.3 of our newsletter) has been published in the Official Journal of the EU.
Further to actions on reduction of plastic bags already mentioned, the Directive adds that the Commission should ask CEN to develop a standard for home-compostable packaging and refers to the misleading definition of biodegradability given to oxo-degradable plastics that can contain polluting and damaging substances.
Taking these aspects into account is needed to diminish the risk of consumer confusion about the composting properties of biodegradable and compostable plastic carrier bags. An Implementing Act on specifications for an EU-wide labelling of these products is also foreseen.
ANEC will follow the next steps of the European Commission in examining the impact of the use of oxo-degradable plastic carrier bags on the environment with special interest. A report by 2017 will consider whether a legislative proposal is deemed appropriate. ANEC has for long called for a revision of the Packaging Directive 94/62/EC to achieve stricter criteria in packaging standards with respect to prevention of packaging and dangerous chemical substances, re-use, material recycling and thermal recovery.
What objectives in the DSM strategy for cross-border parcel delivery?
E-commerce delivery is a main priority of the European Commission Digital Single Market (DSM) Strategy. The Communication also announced the launch of measures to improve efficiency, price transparency and the enhancement of the regulatory oversight of parcel delivery.
With a view to make e-commerce easier and increase consumer trust in this market, the new Communication refers under Pillar I “Better access for consumers and businesses to digital goods and services across Europe” to the development of harmonised EU rules on contracts and consumer protection when buying online.
In support of the DSM strategy, a new Public consultation on cross border parcel delivery has been launched by the EC with the aim of collecting the views of all interested parties on the main issues and possible areas of improvement for cross-border delivery services when sending packets and parcels across the EU. The ANEC Services WG will reply to the consultation based on our experience in the work on postal services standardisation, and preliminary research on consumer complaints data in this area.
Safety of Tourism Accommodation Service available
The European Commission published a summary report of the views and contributions of stakeholders to the Green Paper consultation on the safety of tourism accommodation. This includes the ANEC contribution on the consumer expectations for a minimum level of services safety throughout Europe, focusing on needs of vulnerable consumers. We look forward to hearing about the next steps envisaged in this area of consumer safety.
Market Surveillance of Energy Label & Minimum Efficiency Requirements
A conference held on 29-20 April marked the launch of the EEPLIANT Action. Its main objective is to help deliver the intended economic and environment benefits of the EU Energy Labelling and Eco-design legislations by increasing the rates of compliance with the EU energy efficiency requirements.
This will be achieved through coordinating the monitoring, verification and enforcement activities of 12 Market Surveillance Authorities across the EU Single Market. The project is coordinated by PROSAFE and funded from the EU’s Horizon 2020.
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