2015 - Ed. 10
Single Market Strategy
In December, ANEC issued a position paper presenting its views on the Communication on Upgrading the Single Market, published by the European Commission on 28 October 2015.
As part of the strategy, the EC plans to modernise the European Standardisation System and intends to pursue a ‘Joint Initiative on Standardisation’ with the European standardisation community. ANEC believes it essential for this Initiative (known informally as the “PACT”) to lead to increased levels of consumer protection and welfare. Hence we are disappointed that the Communication focuses almost exclusively on the supply-side of the market and making it “easier for business to do business”. We do not think the full benefits of the Single Market will be reaped unless the demand-side of the market is similarly addressed with the supply-side.
We have also commented on other consumer-relevant aspects of the Communication linked to standardisation. We welcome the wish to see the development of more European standards for services. Nevertheless, in our view, the existence of a harmonising legal framework is a pre-requisite for guaranteeing the effective use of European standards in this area.
Although we also welcome the ambition to strengthen market surveillance, we repeat our call to the Council of the EU to reach agreement on the Market Surveillance Regulation, or at least de-couple it from the more difficult elements of the Product Safety Package.
Finally, we express concerns on the mutual recognition principle which the Commission wants to see enforced. We urge for a careful distinction between those restrictions that arise from a wish to enhance consumer protection in one Member State and those that have been put in place to protect the domestic industry in another.
ANEC at 20th CI World Congress
The 20th Consumers International (CI) World Congress, dedicated to the theme, 'Unlocking Consumer Power: A new vision for the global marketplace', took place in Brasilia, Brazil from 18-21 November. It included panel sessions and interactive discussions across a range of important consumer issues, with experts from the consumer movement, civil society organisations, government and the private sector.
Jens Henriksson, from the Swedish Consumers' Association and a member of the ANEC General Assembly and Steering Committee, spoke on “Standards today, Legislation tomorrow – how can the international consumer movement have better impact”, including ANEC’s experiences at European level. He also participated in the ISO and CI workshop, “Connecting with consumers – Empowerment through standards”.
Photo: Consumers International
Standards in 60 seconds
ANEC published a new leaflet ‘Standards in 60 seconds’ in November. We invite you to take no more than a minute and browse this short publication which aims to explain the European standardisation process in a nutshell.
In September, ANEC published an ‘ANEC in 60 seconds’ leaflet presenting essential information on our role.
Santa Claus wants Christmas to be safe!
Children learn through play, and toys make an essential contribution to their development.
With the festive season approaching, ANEC is pleased to endorse a short video prepared by Toy Industries of Europe (TIE) which includes 12 simple tips to help children play safely with toys. The video is available in English, Dutch, French, Italian & Spanish. Danish & German versions will soon be available. A leaflet has also been issued to accompany the video.
Please help Santa Claus by sharing the video and leaflet with your networks.
Barriers to clicking cross-border
Only 10% of EU consumers regularly shop from internet retailers in other EU countries, compared with 63% from websites in their home countries, according to our new survey of more than 4.000 consumers in 22 EU countries.
The ANEC study ‘European cross-border online shopping - Learning from consumer experiences’ reveals that, despite European Commission policies to encourage e-commerce cross-border, consumers still face notable barriers to reaping the benefits of a digital single market.
The study looks at the online shopping habits of EU consumers and identifies key problems met by those who buy from internet retailers in other EU countries.
Two-thirds of online shoppers surveyed have bought cross-border, with 15% finding a problem. Of these, 27% reported late deliveries while 22% said their orders never arrived. Respondents also reported problems when trying to place orders, such as unfair price differences, unclear or misleading information, and retailers refusing to sell or deliver to the address of the shopper.
An overview of the main findings can be found in the ANEC leaflet: Key Facts on Cross-border online shopping within the EU.
CENELEC finishes work on use of household appliances by vulnerable consumers
On 30 November & 1 December, CENELEC TC 61 WG4 held its last meeting to deal with work under Mandate M/392 and revision of the EN 60335 series for electrical household appliances to address use by vulnerable consumers.
The previous version of the EN 60335 standards contained an exclusion or limitation clause that these standards do not “..., in general, take into account the use of appliances by young children or infirm persons without supervision.”
ANEC argued successfully that the clause was discriminatory, leading to creation of CENELEC TC 61 WG 4 to revise the standards. Due to the complexity of European legislation governing domestic electrical appliances, and need to ensure both safety and accessibility, the revision process proved complex. ANEC provided financial support in order to determine the technical solutions needed to facilitate the revisions.
The task of WG4 has now come to an end. The culmination of the work represents a big step forward for the safety of consumers, especially children, older people & those with disabilities.
ANEC must thank all the experts who contributed to this work, especially Fabio Gargantini, the convenor of CENELEC TC 61 WG4, and consumer experts, Chris Evans and Inga Filmer.
European Accessibility Act
On 2 December, the European Commission published its long-awaited proposal for a European Accessibility Act. The proposed directive will set common accessibility requirements for certain key products & services to help people with disabilities participate fully in society. In a press release, ANEC welcomed the proposed legislation as we have been calling for regulatory action and use of standards for many years in order to increase access to everyday products and services for consumers of all ages and abilities. In addition, ANEC proposed the legislation establishes a market surveillance system of public authorities, either harmonised at European level or at least well-coordinated and resourced. We are pleased the Commission has taken up these suggestions in the proposal.
The ordinary legislative procedure will be followed, involving the European Parliament and the Council of Ministers.
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
On 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities was celebrated globally to promote action to raise awareness about disability issues and draw attention to the benefits of an inclusive and accessible society for all.
To mark the occasion, we released the ANEC guidance on the use of ISO/IEC Guide 71:2014 & CEN-CENELEC Guide 6:2014 “Guide for addressing accessibility in standards”. This material provides tips and directions on taking accessibility into account when writing standards.
EU Covenant on Demographic Change
On 7 December, the AFE-INNOVNET Thematic Network launched a Covenant on Demographic Change. Its aim is to become a new EU-wide association gathering local, regional and national authorities; civil society organisations; universities and businesses that are committed to cooperate and implement evidence-based solutions in supporting active and healthy ageing as a comprehensive answer to Europe’s demographic challenge.
As a member of the AFE-INNOVNET Network, ANEC has applied to join the Covenant.
More standards for domestic swimming pools
In edition 6 of our Newsletter, we reported on adoption of the EN 16582 series of standards for domestic swimming pools, dealing with general requirements, as well as separate, specific requirements for in-ground pools and above-ground pools.
ANEC welcomes the adoption by CEN of EN 16713, a further series of three standards for domestic swimming pools addressing requirements and test methods for filtration systems; circulation systems & treatment of water systems. ANEC participated in the drafting of the standards and called for their adoption when they were circulated for the Formal Vote of national standards bodies. Further work on domestic swimming pools is continuing in CEN TC 402 with the drafting of standards for mini-pools and spas. We also participate in this work.
Circular Economy Package rewind
The Circular Economy Package was launched on 2 December. The new package aims at covering the full lifecycle: from production & consumption, to waste management and the market for secondary raw materials. The new Commission Communication: Closing the loop - An EU action plan for the Circular Economy announces measures in the Ecodesign working plan for 2015-2017 and a strategy on plastics in the circular economy.
With a view to increasing safety and facilitate recycling, the Commission is also expected to promote nontoxic material cycles. The Commission will examine how chemicals, products and waste legislation can work together best, including proposals to improve the tracking of chemicals of concern in products.
Although the long-awaited Circular Economy Package lacks definite ambitious actions and targets in certain areas, we welcome the confirmation that the existing Ecodesign directive remains a well-established instrument to drive the design of products towards environmental and quality performance. We look forward to next steps and the publication of the Ecodesign working plan in taking the opportunity to improve material efficiency.
This summer, we responded to the circular economy consultation. Our comments highlighted the need for a resource saving economy which eliminates consumption that does not add anything to quality of life, as well as early disposal of still functioning products.
ANEC is also keen to follow the actions announced in the area of construction and demolition in light of its recent paper 'Laying the foundations for sustainable buildings'.
ISO eCampaign on standards & smart cities
From 23 to 27 November, ISO hosted a global eCampaign on standards and smart cities using the hashtag #mysmartcity. Apart from provoking discussion and allowing people to talk about smart cities, its aim was to help bring the concept of standards for smart cities to people in different countries.
ANEC, a member of the CEN-CENELEC-ETSI Coordination Group ‘Smart and Sustainable Cities & Communities’ (SSCC-CG), engaged in the campaign on social media and published a leaflet, “Citizens' requirements for smart cities: what standards can do!”.
Services made in Europe
ANEC participated in the AFNOR-CEN workshop “Which tools to support the development of services?” , held on 19 November in Paris. The event showcased current and future trends in the services markets, reflections and perspectives on standardisation in Europe.
As the services sector has been evolving rapidly in recent years, participants discussed how stakeholders can contribute to the development of tomorrow’s services and how voluntary standards can serve as essential tools.
At the workshop, ANEC asked the steps that can be taken to increase a wider stakeholder involvement in standardisation and facilitate stronger engagement of national standardisation bodies in services standardisation.
The workshop concluded awareness-raising and experience sharing are critical to ensure that the service sector delivers more of its potential in Europe. Commitment to fulfil the needs of regulators & policy makers, and closer partnership between CEN and national standardisation bodies, were also recommended for better standardisation in the services area.
Debate at European Parliament on tourism accommodation safety
ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, spoke at the European Parliament Roundtable ‘What next for tourism accommodation safety in the EU?’ hosted on 18 November, by Linda McAvan MEP and ABTA, the Association of British Travel Agents.
The participants agreed that, although the will of European Commission and some Member States to pursue legislation seems diminished, there is still support from other stakeholders for initiatives to address accommodation safety in Europe. Particular support was expressed for legislation and enforcement to address the risks posed by carbon monoxide poisoning.
Data collection, on which the Commission is also agreed, is seen only as a first step.
The Parliament’s Intergroup on Tourism will look at raising these concerns with the UN World Tourism Organisation, and welcomes further engagement from stakeholders on the issue of tourism accommodation safety.
…and of fire safety in buildings more generally
ANEC also participated in the meeting ‘Better regulation for fire safety: does the Construction Products Regulation (CPR) deliver?’, hosted by Catherine Stihler MEP, and organised by Fire Safe Europe, on 17 November. Fire safety experts, fire fighters, European policy makers, and representatives from the industry and trade associations gathered to discuss the path towards a better regulation of fire safety in buildings.
The organisers wanted to draw attention to the testing methods used by the CPR not always reflecting the actual fire behaviour of building materials. Fire Safe Europe presented proposals for future-proofing the Regulation.
The Commission recognised the need for standards but also effective market surveillance. The Commission representatives added that safety is not only dependent the on performance of products, but also the design of the building, and on proper maintenance.
Noise of L-category vehicles
ANEC responded to a survey on ‘Enhanced sound requirements for L-category vehicles, i.e. mopeds, quads and their replacement silencers’. The study aims at identifying whether the UN Regulations fit appropriately into the EU context and proposes improvements. Particular emphasis is given to consideration of tools enabling market surveillance and enforcement of the relevant legislation. ANEC believes that the noise of L-category vehicles poses a problem in rural as well as urban areas, but especially in cities. Tampering with silencing systems is a main cause of their noise pollution. ANEC wants to see better legislation and enforcement, as well as improved market surveillance.
Integral Harness Isofix Child Seats
CI/ANEC attended the Working Party on Passive Safety (GRSP) meeting at UNECE on 8-11 December. Phase 1 of Regulation 129, dealing with integral Isofix child restraint systems, entered into force on 9 July 2013. Initially, the aim was to finalise phase 2 (non-integral CRS) and phase 3 (belted CRS), and phase out R44 (no new approvals) once all phases had entered into force, as we had advocated. However, work is on-going on phases 2 and 3, so permitting new integral CRS with Isofix connections according to R44 to be approved. CI/ANEC consider it undesirable that manufacturers can still develop new products according to R44 resulting in:
Two categories of products, offering two levels of protection that can be introduced on the market (R44 no side impact required; child forward-facing from 9kg)
Confusion among consumers (mass-based classification vs stature-based)
Less incentive for manufacturers to develop products to the latest standard (R 129).
Hence CI/ANEC have proposed that no new R44 approvals be granted to Isofix integral CRS and that transitional provisions be amended accordingly.
Status quo of smart metering in Europe
The European Commission’s Smart Grid Task Force (SGTF) published a report assessing the current roll-out of smart metering systems in 17 Member States.
In 2015, SGTF made an investigation into the interoperability, standards and functionalities applied in the large scale roll-outs of smart metering in EU countries. ANEC was involved in the design of the questionnaire and provided feedback on the draft report.
The main findings are summarised in a report and its accompanying annexes that include the respective survey results and the individual country responses to the questionnaire.
ANEC gives long-term perspective on smart meters
ANEC Project Team Leader, Neil Avery, moderated the session “Keeping the Meter Smart and Secure: A Long Term Perspective” at this year’s European Utility Week in Vienna.
It saw presentations and debate on several aspects of smart metering. In particular, the importance of security & privacy for the household, secure data handling and interoperability were discussed.
Other issues debated were the development of standards and other measures to manage new risks arising from demand response schemes, and incentives to aid consumer participation.
News from ANEC Members
InfoCons Association, Romania
In September, the National Association for Consumer Protection and Promotion of Programs and Strategies of Romania (ANPCPPS) was renamed the InfoCons Association.
The Association is developing several projects & campaigns to educate and inform consumers. These include a project aimed at aiding the inclusion of people with disabilities; a free app to provide information to consumers, an events diary and information number for consumers.
ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, congratulated the Association on its initiatives and its clear commitment to raise levels of consumer protection in Romania.
Grace Attard appointed to CCMI
On 16 November, Mrs Grace Attard, the Maltese Member of the ANEC General Assembly and a member of the ANEC Steering Committee, was appointed as a delegate to the Consultative Commission on Industrial Change (CCMI) for the period 2016-2020. The Commission, a body of the European Economic & Social Committee (EESC), promotes coherence of Community action in relation to the industrial change and ensures balance between the need for socially acceptable change and retention of a competitive edge for EU industry.
With standards seen as an element of the European Commission’s Better Regulation initiative, ANEC believes standards to be increasingly of relevance to the work of the CCMI. We look forward to supporting Mrs Attard in her role.
Season's Greetings from the ANEC Secretariat
As this is the last edition of the Newsletter before 2016, all in the ANEC Secretariat wish you a happy, prosperous and safe holiday season!
For comments or if you wish to write an article for the ANEC Newsletter, please contact: Kristina Aleksandrova (firstname.lastname@example.org).
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