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Newsletter

2015 - Ed. 3

ANEC turns 20!

This March marks the 20th anniversary of the foundation of ANEC. In 1995, ANEC was set up, with the political and financial support of the European Institutions, to ensure a consumer voice in European standardisation. Since its foundation, the organisation has been dedicated to ensuring effective consumer representation in the writing of standards.

We take this opportunity to thank our dedicated team of volunteer experts from across Europe, supported by the ANEC secretariat in Brussels, for their commitment to our mission – raising standards for consumers! As standardisation continues apace as the European Single Market continues to evolve and deepen, our aim remains to ensure all products & services, including the newest technologies, are safe, interoperable and accessible to all, with their impacts on the environment minimised. To learn more about some of our achievements during the past 20 years, please visit our success stories.

ANEC will formally celebrate its 21st anniversary during its General Assembly meeting in summer 2016.

#LaundrySafe

An OECD global awareness-raising campaign on laundry detergent capsules, led by the European Commission, runs  from 16 to 23 March 2015. The campaign aims to highlight the risks posed by a product that is present in many households worldwide: laundry detergent capsules (or packets). These products can be attractive to children and can pose a serious danger if not handled and stored safely. A toddler is especially tempted to play with the capsules or even ingest them as the capsules often resemble sweets. A capsule can burst in a child's mouth in as little as ten seconds, causing severe injuries, or dissolve in the hand, especially if moist.

More information, as well as campaign materials, can be found and downloaded from: http://goo.gl/hAR8G6.

SAMNIC

ANEC is one of five members of a consortium that has received funding under the Erasmus+ programme to develop training on the “Safety Assessment and Management for New and Innovative Children’s Products (SAMNIC)”.  The SAMNIC project runs until 31 August 2016.

As there is presently no training that provides a global vision for the safety of children’s products, the main objective of SAMNIC is the development of an innovative tool called MOOC (Massive Open Online Course) intended to provide training on the safety of children’s products to technical staff in industry, especially SMEs, and consumer associations. MOOC will be an online course with an unlimited participation and open and free access online. SAMNIC will provide appropriate knowledge and serve as platform for exchanging experience and collaborative learning between all stakeholders involved in child safety.

Helena Menezes, an ANEC child safety expert for many years, has been appointed ‘SAMNIC Researcher & Technician’ and will be responsible for the work that ANEC leads under the project. 

Transposition of EN 301549

In January, members of CEN/CENELEC/ETSI JWG “eAccessibility” were informed that BSI and DIN had asked for a transposition of EN 301 549 “Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe” into an International Standard. A vote on the proposal was held until 28 February.

ANEC submitted comments stating that it could support the transposition of EN 301 549 if a number of clarifications were made and several conditions met. Owing to the link between certain European standards and public policy - such as the presumption of conformity with European legislation - European standards have a specific impact on consumer protection. It is very likely EN 301549 will become a “harmonized standard” under a future European Directive on web accessibility of public sector websites. It is also important to clarify whether there would be an identical transposition or it would entail re-discussion of the content of the standard.

In Europe, ANEC is a Partner Organisation of CEN and CENELEC, and a full member of ETSI, with participation rights at the technical and governance levels. However, there is no equivalent consumer involvement in the international standards bodies, and ANEC is not as systematically or automatically involved with international standards-making as it is with European process. Even if the transposition were to be an identical transposition, according to the latest Guidelines on the implementation of the Vienna Agreement between ISO & CEN, any future revision of EN 301 549 would be done under ISO lead. The implications for ANEC could include greater difficulties in influencing the development process.

Let’s be smart

ANEC addressed the consumer view on functionalities and interoperability of smart metering systems at the Citizens' Energy Forum on 12-13 March 2015 in London. At the Forum, Neil Avery, Leader of the ANEC Smart Meter & Smart Grid Project Team, stressed ANEC’s key concerns and advised what needs to happen to help engage consumers in the European energy market.

ANEC is concerned that only 8 Member States comply fully with the 10 minimum functionalities of smart metering systems. These functionalities are meant to ensure the provision of “real time” information about energy consumption directly to the consumer and support advanced tariff structures. In the absence of these functionalities some consumers may not benefit from smart meters if they do not have the information they need to take informed decisions about their energy consumption.

But this is only the start. More work is needed to build trust, encourage consumer engagement and achieve the desired outcomes. Consumers need to be helped and encouraged to change the way they use energy. Independent help and advice on maximising energy savings can also boost engagement, together with incentives.

Another topic is interoperability. ANEC Representative, John Ketchell, gave the consumer view on implementation of the standards at European Conference on Smart Grid standardisation achievements on 26 February 2015 in Brussels. During a panel discussion, he stressed that end-devices need to be interoperable, as otherwise consumers will lose information about energy consumption, and costs of replacing appliances may rise. ANEC also believes that with the advent of technologies, such as flexibility services, it needs to be clarified how benefits can be shared and how we can protect vulnerable consumers.

ANEC issued a press release to mark the Forum.

LVD Guidelines

Following the publication of the new Low Voltage Directive (LVD) 2014/35/EU last year, the European Commission plans to review the LVD Guidelines. The present version of the Guidelines can be found at http://goo.gl/p5E7d4.

In view of starting this work, the Commission will create a subgroup of the LVD Working Party, consisting of representatives from Member States and stakeholders to work on the revision. ANEC plans to participate.

Fire Safety in Buildings

ANEC attended the meeting "Is Europe Playing with Fire? Call to Action on Fire Safety in Buildings” organised on 25 February by Fire Safe Europe and hosted by Olga Sehnalová MEP (S&D).

The organisers introduced their perspectives on fire risks in the current built-environment and actions proposed by Fire Safe Europe prior to a discussion with the audience. The need for balanced representation in standards technical committees was stressed.

ANEC agreed with other participants on the need for an holistic approach to fire safety of buildings in the EU. Stakeholders and institutions with the same goal should join forces to this aim. 

Fire Safe Europe will organise further meetings on specific aspects debated at this kick off meeting until September, under the framework of their campaign, “Fire Safety First”.

Plastic carrier bags

At the beginning of March, the EU Member States gave their approval to the proposed Directive amending Directive 94/62/EC as regards reducing consumption of lightweight plastic carrier bags.

The new rules require Member States to reduce the use of light weight plastic bags by 80% by 2025. EU countries can choose from different measures: they are permitted to introduce additional taxes or ban single-use plastic bags at national level.

ANEC commented in 2011 on options to reduce the use of plastic carrier bags and options to improve the requirements of biodegradability in the Directive 94/62/EC on packaging and packaging waste. In 2013, we issued a position on the Green Paper on a European Strategy on Plastic Waste and contributed to the proposal for reduction of the use of plastic bags debated in the European Parliament. We especially supported the requirements on hazardous substances proposed by the European Parliament’s ENVI committee. We also referred to an analysis of European packaging standards, carried out by ANEC under standardisation Mandate M/317.

Member States will have 18 months to incorporate the new rules into national legislation after the text enters into force. Two years later, the Commission will need to present two reports to the Parliament and Council. The first will examine the impact of the use of oxo-degradable plastic bags on the environment; the second will assess different possibilities to reduce the use of very lightweight plastic bags. Both reports may be accompanied, if appropriate, by legislative proposals.

Vademecum on European Standardisation

In light of the new rules on mandates introduced by the Standardisation Regulation (EU) No 1025/2012, the European Commission decided to revise the Vademecum on European Standardisation. The Vademecum is a Commission Staff Working document meant to provide guidance on the standardisation procedure to be followed for the issuing and execution of standardisation mandates/requests. On 25 June 2014, the Commission published the first draft documents of the second revision of the 'Vademecum'. Although the key addressees of the Vademecum are the European Standardisation Organisations and Commission itself, ANEC submitted some comments from the consumer perspective in November of last year. A Task Force was set up by the EC Committee of Standards to finalise the document by March 2015. ANEC participates in the Task Force and its weekly meetings held in February and March.

Belgian ANEC member bankrupt following budget cut from government

It is with regret and sadness that ANEC heard of the bankruptcy of CRIOC, the Research and Information Centre of the Belgian Consumer Organisations. This bankruptcy follows a 2014 decision of the Belgian government to stop annual funding to the Centre. As a result, the 22employees of CRIOC have been made redundant.

CRIOC was one of the founders of ANEC and a long-time member of the ANEC General Assembly. It also participated in several ANEC Working Groups. 

ANEC thanks CRIOC for its valuable contributions to ANEC over very many years and for the commitment and enthusiasm of its staff in helping us defend the consumer interest in standardisation. We wish our former colleagues every success in the future.
 

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