2015 - Ed. 7
ANEC has launched an online survey of cross-border online shopping. We want to collect experiences from consumers who shop from online retailers based either in their country or abroad. Furthermore, we want to know why other consumers do not shop online.
We would be grateful if you, your family and friends would take some minutes to answer the survey which remains open until Sunday 16 August 2015.
‘Friends of Standardisation’ round table
On 1 July 2015, the European Commission hosted a round table to discuss the report of the Independent Review of the European Standardisation System (ESS), carried out by Ernest & Young (EY) at the request of the Commission. The aim of the event was to review the broad themes of the report and consider how they might be taken forward in the Single Market Package planned to be released by the Commission later in the year. The themes discussed included the governance of the ESS, interactions within the ESS and the communication with the ESS. The event saw participation and interventions from European and national standards organisations, industry, Annex III Organisations and other stakeholders.
ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, referred to the ESS as the best mechanism in the world for development and implementation of standards. Without the New Approach of 1985 and the support of the ESS, he believed the Single European Market for products would never have been possible. Therefore any fundamental changes to the ESS, its role and its focus had to be carefully considered. He stressed that, given the role of European standards in supporting European legislation and public policies, work that was subject to a standardisation request (or mandate) should be done in Europe unless there was consensus among all European stakeholders that the work be led at international level.
EU Energy Label revision to simplify sustainable shopping
The European Commission published a proposal to revise the EU Energy Label in order to make choosing energy-efficient appliances simpler for consumers. The proposal foresees abolishing the current A ‘plus’ (A+, A++, A+++) classes and re-introducing the simple, closed A to G scheme, which ANEC has long called for.
In a press release, ANEC welcomed the proposal as research confirms a simple, closed A-G label is the best option in helping consumers choose the most energy-efficient product. The proposal foresees the establishment of a product registration database to facilitate the work of market surveillance authorities, provide information to the public, and facilitate revisions of product specific measures. It also includes durability as a further element of information that could be provided to consumers.
Greens-EFA event on TTIP
ANEC Senior Manager, Chiara Giovannini, spoke at the event, “TTIP and beyond - trade in global and local politics” hosted by the Greens-European Free Alliance (EFA) at the European Parliament on 1 July.
Chiara presented the ANEC position during the panel "TTIP will create a gold standard for global trade". On TTIP (Transatlantic Trade & Investment Partnership) and standards, she expressed concern about the risks of mutual recognition of European standards and “standards developed in the US”. She stressed the risks that would arise from using the latter in providing presumption of conformity to EU legislation due to the clear differences in the standardisation models on either side of the Atlantic.
Final draft of the UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection agreed
The final draft text of the revised UN Guidelines for Consumer Protection was agreed on 9 July 2015. The draft text will be presented for adoption by the UN General Assembly later this year.
The proposed text will strengthen and update the Guidelines to help ensure they remain the important international instrument to enhance consumer protection globally.
A number of improvements have been introduced in the text including proposals to create an Intergovernmental Group of Experts (IGE) to support and monitor the effective implementation of the Guidelines; new guidance on electronic commerce, financial services, public utilities, good business practices, international cooperation, the inclusion of parity of treatment between online and offline consumers, and protection of consumer privacy.
Consumers International (CI) played a central role in the negotiation process which has taken three years. As a CI Supporter, ANEC congratulates CI and its Director-General, Amanda Long, on its achievement.
For more information, please visit the CI website.
ANEC at EBU e-workshop on accessibility of lifts
The European Blind Union (EBU) organised its first e-workshop “Accessibility of lifts – current status and next steps in relation to usability for persons with visual impairment” on 25 June 2015.
Monika Klenovec, the ANEC Representative in CEN/TC 10 ‘Lifts, escalators and moving walks’, presented the legal framework on accessibility in the built environment, and the standardisation process at the international and European levels. EN 81-70 ‘Lifts for persons including persons with disabilities’ is under revision and ANEC received special recognition for its contribution to the process during the e-workshop. The e-workshop was organised to provide opportunity for participants to exchange information and discuss the difficulties in using lifts encountered by people with visual impairments.
BrailleNet/G3ict White Paper User Driven e-Accessibility
A new BrailleNet/G3ict White Paper ‘User Driven e-Accessibility’ is available. The paper builds on topics addressed at the 8th European e-Accessibility Forum, held on 31 March 2014 in Paris, where professionals, association members and scholars from around the world gathered to discuss “User-driven e-Accessibility”. The paper features a contribution from ANEC, ‘How can we make standards & legislation meet the needs of all consumers?’ (p.24).
Candle flame ignition re-ignited
For many years, ANEC has been fighting use of hazardous flame retardants in television sets. The standards on the safety of audio-video equipments, covering TVs sets, included a controversial sentence on the need to design TVs in a way as to reduce the likelihood of ignition and the spread of fire caused by a candle flame.
One (and possibly the easiest and cheaper) way for manufacturers to comply with this requirement is the use of (hazardous) flame retardants. However, in ANEC’s opinion, incorporating flame-retardants without proof of need would make televisions a health and environmental safety hazard. The resistance to candle flame ignition can be reached by design (e.g. sandwich-construction) and use of material (e.g. ceramics).
As many IEC and CENELEC National Committees shared ANEC’s opinion, the votes on the approval of these standards have been negative, both at the European and International levels.
Unfortunately, new parallel voting in IEC and CENELEC on the revision of IEC 60065-A1Ed8: “Audio, video and similar electronic apparatus – Safety requirements” and IEC 62368-1-A1/Ed2: “Audio/video, information and communication technology equipment - Part 1: Safety requirements’ has opened with the texts making reference to the candle flame test. ANEC believes it is vital to oppose the use of hazardous flame retardants in television sets and asks its members and partners to join it in opposing these standards.
A smart deployment of smart meters?
Over half of Europe is rolling out smart meters. Whereas some countries have had household smart meters installed for several years, others are about to fit their first generation. ANEC has reservations about the benefits smart meters are meant to bring to consumers. Although use of minimum functionalities for smart meters & interoperability is important, we think these will not be enough to ensure active consumer participation in the smart energy market.
We therefore published the position paper 'Monitoring the success of smart metering deployment from a consumer perspective' to propose possible measures that could be used to assess whether the smart meter deployment is truly benefitting consumers.
We believe smart meters can become a success story for consumers only if consumers: (1) have easy access to usable consumption information, (2) have a high level of satisfaction with smart metering deployment, (3) are able to realise benefits from smart meters and (4) are engaged in the smart energy market. The paper further proposes a set of indicators to measure whether these outcomes are met.
ANEC views on cross-border parcel delivery
Based on our experiences while representing consumer interests in CEN TC 331 ‘Postal Services’, ANEC responded to the survey in the European Commission public consultation on cross-border parcel delivery "Initiative to enhance the affordability, quality and convenience of cross-border parcel delivery.
Further to its response, we also issued a paper explaining our views on cross-border parcel delivery. Taking into account the national experiences shared by our member organisations, the paper describes key consumer aspects that we trust will be tackled in future Commission activities to improve the quality and efficiency of the parcel delivery market.
These range from transparency of information (on price, returns policy delivery) and the effective tracking and tracing of parcels, to quality of delivery service, affordability and accessibility of the service.
Car rental services becoming clearer for consumers?
The European Commission has reached agreement with five major car rental companies on improving their services to consumers. The car rental companies pledge to increase clarity on insurance policies and tank refuelling options, to more fairness when handling damages, and more price transparency.
Further information - including latest data from the European Consumer Centres on complaints on car rental services showing an increase of recorded complaints - can be found here: http://tinyurl.com/o9msakg
The ANEC 2014 technical study on consumer experiences when travelling abroad already identified car rental services as the most problematic area and our related position paper made a recommendation to policy makers and standardisers on the possible usefulness of a European standards. ANEC looks forward to developments further to this industry-led initiative.
For comments or if you wish to write an article for the ANEC Newsletter, please contact: Kristina Aleksandrova (firstname.lastname@example.org).
ANEC is supported by the European Commission and EFTA.