2014 - Ed. 10
ANEC signs new Framework Partnership Agreement
Further to a call for proposals for the future representation of the European consumer voice in standardisation held during the summer, ANEC has signed a new Framework Partnership Agreement (FPA) with the European Commission. The public call was the first to be held under the provisions of Regulation (EU) 1025/2012 on European standardisation.
The FPA will be valid for the period 2015 to 2018, automatically renewable to 2020. It will be underpinned by annual Operating Grants to support execution of the ANEC work programme. A related agreement between ANEC and EFTA will follow in the New Year.
Arnold Pindar, ANEC President, said, “ANEC welcomes the decision of the European Commission to continue to support ANEC as the European consumer voice in standardisation. Our presence in over 130 technical bodies in CEN, CENELEC & ETSI - and more than 25 at international level - enables us to be an effective partner in achieving standards that promote consumer protection and welfare. We look forward to continuing that partnership with the Commission through our support to the Annual Union Work Programme for European standardisation, introduced by the Standardisation Regulation, and in our review of its proposals that relate to use of standards in policy or legislation”.
Vademecum on European Standardisation
In November, ANEC commented on the Revised Draft Vademecum on European Standardisation. The Guide is intended to support the mandating, development and citation of harmonised standards under Regulation (EU) 1025/2012. Although the key addressees of the Vademecum are the Commission itself and European Standardisation Organisations, we submitted several comments and questions on issues from the consumer perspective.
We welcome the confirmation that the role of a standardisation request/mandate is not to delegate political powers to the European Standardisation Organisations (ESOs). In ANEC’s opinion, the role of standards should be limited to providing the technical means through which compliance with the political or legal decisions is achieved or evaluated, and to the other technical characteristics of the product or service. ANEC proposes that the Vademecum draws Commission officials’ attention to the need to make reference to available scientific opinions or to the precautionary principle, in the standardisation requests/mandates in case of unclear legislative provisions. We also propose that the Vademecum clarifies the legal status of a standardisation request/mandate rejected wholly (or partly) by the ESOs.
ANEC will participate in a small multi-stakeholder working group established by the Commission to finalise the first parts of the Vademecum by the end of March 2015.
Congratulations to our colleagues from BSI-CPIN!
ANEC congratulates those members of the British Standards Institution’s Consumer & Public Interest Network (BSI-CPIN) recently presented with Special Commendation awards.
BSI-CPIN awarded Anne Smith (co-Chair of the ANEC Child Safety Working Group & an ANEC representative) for her contribution to standards development in the field of child safety at both national and European level. Anne has worked for over 40 years to improve the safety standards for child care products, and has influenced innumerable European standards for child use & care products. Her greatest contribution has been to improve the safety of “wheeled child conveyances and the standards term for prams and pushchairs, which have evolved into fashionable multi-function child travel systems and high-performance all-terrain jogging buggies”.
Neil Avery, ANEC Smart Meters and Smart Grids Project Team Leader, was recognised for his contribution to standards development in the field of customer service while serving as a BSI committee member.
Mike Hayes (member of the ANEC Child Safety WG & an ANEC representative), Inga Filmer (member of the ANEC Domestic Appliances WG) and Gretel Jones (member of the ANEC Child Safety WG and Services WG and an ANEC representative) received Distinguished Service Certificates in recognition of their contributions to standards development.
40 years of the DIN Consumer Council
On 5 December, the Consumer Council of DIN – the German national standards body - celebrated its 40th anniversary. A special interactive exhibition about the Council and its history was opened in DIN's Berlin offices to showcase its achievements.
To learn more about the exhibition please visit: http://tinyurl.com/nteg6vf
A video is also available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aSy874DkGHg
ANEC congratulates the Consumer Council on its anniversary and its enormous contribution to standardisation at the national, European and international levels.
#access4all and new Guide 71
To mark the International Day of Persons with Disabilities (IDPD) on 3 December, the first week of December was dedicated to the topic of ‘Accessibility’. CEN-CENELEC, with their national members in 33 countries, as well as ISO and IEC, ETSI and many other standards organisations around the world, put the spotlight on how standards support accessibility.
ANEC used the occasion to issue a press release welcoming the publication of a new version of Guide 71 ‘Guide for addressing accessibility in standards’ by the International Organisation for Standardisation (ISO), International Electrotechnical Commission (IEC) and the International Telecommunication Union (ITU). The revised Guide 71 – to which ANEC contributed - is accompanied by a policy statement from IEC, ISO & ITU on standardisation and accessibility.
We were also pleased to participate in the #access4all campaign and tweetchat, aimed at raising awareness of how standards can improve accessibility for people with disabilities and older people.
ISO/IEC Guide 50 'Child Safety'
ANEC welcomes the publication on 15 December 2014 of the revised version of ISO/IEC Guide 50 ‘Safety aspects -- Guidelines for child safety in standards and other specifications’.
The Guide provides a framework for addressing potential sources of unintentional physical harm (hazards) to children from products, processes or services that they use or with which they may come into contact, even if they are not specifically intended for children. It provides a valuable resource for the ISO and IEC standards system and beyond.
The Guide was revised by an ISO/IEC Joint WG under the convenorship of Mike Hayes, member of the ANEC Child Safety Working Group. ANEC actively followed the revision of the Guide and submitted comments during the enquiry stage.
Actions are now under way to promote the value and use of the guide in standards committees and working groups.
ANEC on revision of Gas Appliances Directive
On 12 May 2014, the European Commission published a proposal for a Regulation on appliances burning gaseous fuels. The proposal intends to replace Directive 2009/142/EC which covers a wide range of consumer products used for cooking, refrigeration, heating, lighting and washing.
In November, ANEC published a position paper on the Commission proposal for a Regulation on appliances burning gaseous fuels. We welcomed that the proposal takes the form of a Regulation. The proposed legislation also maintains the exclusion of appliances specifically designed for use in industrial processes and ensures better traceability of products. It takes into account the provision of Regulation (EU) 1025/2012 setting out a procedure for objections to harmonised standards.
Nevertheless, ANEC expressed a strong concern that no provisions for the installation and maintenance of gas appliances have been introduced in the proposal. A gas appliance, even if manufactured to the most rigorous standards for safety and efficiency, may become unsafe and/or inefficient in operation due to poor, faulty or negligent installation and maintenance. With a mortality rate of 2.24 for each 100.000 persons in Europe, carbon monoxide (CO) kills more people annually than HIV/AIDS (2.0) or skin cancer (2.1), and slightly fewer than alcohol abuse (2.6), according to the World Health Organisation Europe.
ANEC believes it is essential that all carbonaceous fuel burning appliances - not just gas - must be installed, maintained and serviced by a professionally-competent person, following the manufacturer’s instructions.
Draft mandate under the RED
In November, ANEC submitted comments on a draft standardisation mandate under the Radio Equipment Directive (RED).
We especially welcomed the new provisions of article 17 on conformity assessment with the essential requirements which has to take into account the reasonably foreseeable conditions of use. We also believe that it is necessary to include a reference that future amendments of the mandate (or future new mandates) are to be expected once delegated acts, specifying which categories of equipments are concerned by each of the requirements, are adopted.
ANEC wants safe tourism accommodation
ANEC replied to the European Commission consultation on the safety of tourism accommodation services.
ANEC believes all consumers are entitled to benefit from a minimum standard of safety throughout Europe. In our response, we repeated our views regarding the limits of Recommendation 86/666/EC on fire safety in existing hotels, and the need for more attention to be paid to emergency planning, safety management and staff training.
We also highlighted the crucial role of proper risk assessment and the collection and sharing of accident data. Other key consumer expectations regarding market surveillance, accessibility aspects in accommodation services and child safety - as well as the limited effectiveness of voluntary tools - are also addressed in our answers to the consultation.
ANEC speaks at European Tourism Day 2014
On 1 December, tourism stakeholders used European Tourism Day to debate key topics for the future of tourism in Europe. These included promotion, challenges related to digital tourism, the regulatory and administrative framework, and the feasibility of a quality initiative.
ANEC spoke in a panel discussion on a “possible bottom-up tourism service quality initiative”. ANEC Programme Manager for Services, Michela Vuerich, presented the findings of the ANEC technical study: European cross-border travel and tourism - Learning from consumer experiences and complaints, and the recommendations for policy makers and standardisers to improve the experience of consumers in the ANEC position paper: How can we make travel in the EU better for consumers?.
She highlighted how enforcement and increased awareness of consumer rights can solve many of the problems travellers reported in the ANEC survey, as well as areas where standards could support legislation. With regard to a possible tourism service quality initiative, ANEC recalled that any European quality scheme would be useful for consumers only if common criteria are developed that allow clear, comparable and credible information. Such an initiative would need to be supported by all relevant tourism stakeholders and it would be crucial for it to be developed through a tried and trusted process. Standardisation can offer such a forum but can happen and succeed only if there is sufficient support from relevant stakeholders.
Launch of the European Keep Me Posted campaign website
The website of the campaign ‘Keep me posted EU’ has been launched this month. ANEC is an active supporter of the campaign. Keep Me Posted EU promotes the citizen’s right to choose how they receive important information such as tax forms, election documents and bills and statements from service providers without any disadvantage. It is not an anti-digital campaign but a pro-choice campaign wanting to promote inclusion of vulnerable consumers at European level. The campaign is inspired by the UK campaign, Keep Me Posted UK and directed towards the European Institutions. The campaign gathers support of consumer groups and charities that are representing citizens that may be disadvantaged by a lack of choice or simply do not agree with it.
Will smart meters change consumer behaviour?
ANEC spoke at the European Utility Week event in the beginning of November. Neil Avery, Leader of the ANEC Smart Meter & Smart Grid Project Team, explained that smart meters have the potential to help consumers take informed decisions about their energy consumption. However, consumer engagement depends on action being taken to address important concerns about information, choice, privacy and benefits.
On privacy, he highlighted that press reports about detailed consumption data being used for consumer profiling could damage consumer confidence and engagement. Adequate redress mechanisms are needed to detect, investigate and resolve breaches.
Another topic he addressed was instant feedback. He pointed out its importance for encouraging consumers to reduce usage through providing information on how their historical usage compares with similar users. This means providing the consumer with easy access to a usable interface that allows historical consumption information to be downloaded and shared with third parties. Unfortunately, many of the displays do not comply with the minimum ergonomic requirements of ISO standards, so some consumers may not find them easy to use.
Mr Avery concluded his presentation by calling for action to remove the barriers to changing consumer behaviour in order to encourage engagement across all consumer groups, including among vulnerable consumers.
“Consumer Champion” launched
In December, the European Commission launched ‘Consumer Champion’ - a new online Capacity Building programme for Consumer Professionals. It is a successor to the TRACE project and intends to cover a broad scope of capacity building activities.
The objective is to provide capacity building activities aimed at strengthening the effectiveness of consumer organisations (including other actors and stakeholders in consumer policy). It also intends to promote exchange of best practices among Consumer Professionals.
The Consumer Champion programme is aimed at all those working within the consumer field. It offers a networking platform, e-learning courses, training courses at European and national level, and expert courses among other things.
You can join the network and by creating an account at www.consumerchampion.eu
Season's Greetings from the ANEC Secretariat
The ANEC Secretariat wishes you every happiness this Christmas and a happy, prosperous, healthy & safe 2015.
Photo: Tim Hamilton, Flickr
For comments or if you wish to write an article for the ANEC Newsletter, please contact: Kristina Aleksandrova (email@example.com).
ANEC is supported by the European Commission and EFTA.