2014 - Ed. 6
The European Commission hosted the fifth International Product Safety Week in Brussels on 16-20 June 2014. Policy makers, industry and consumer representatives from around the world gathered to discuss how to reinforce product safety.
Conference on Consumer Product Safety & Market Surveillance legislation in the European Union, 16 June 2014
Starting the week, this conference aimed at taking stock of the proposed EU Consumer Product Safety & Market Surveillance Regulations. ANEC Senior Programme Manager, Chiara Giovannini, joined a discussion on whether consumers are ready to use electronic traceability systems, such as RFID tags. She explained that tools to protect consumers personal data were becoming available, such as a series of standards on RFID & privacy to which ANEC had contributed. A real-time polling of the audience supported the view that consumers are indeed ready to use electronic traceability provided their fundamental rights are respected.
ICPHSO International Symposium, 17-18 June 2014
ANEC Secretary-General Stephen Russell gave a keynote speech on the consumer view of product safety at the opening of the event. Mr Russell spoke about the challenges to market surveillance in a changing supply chain. He stressed that the European regulatory framework still focuses on traditional shopping by consumers and few checks are made by public authorities on information provided to consumers on the internet. This has led to inaccurate and inflated claims about product safety or environmental performance. He also reflected on the problems arising from the inadequate resources allocated to market surveillance and need to consider radical options to make surveillance more efficient and effective.
PROSAFE seminar on market surveillance, 19 June 2014
This PROSAFE seminar focused on joint international market surveillance activities. PROSAFE shared its experience of joint market surveillance activities in Europe and first joint action carried out with the Chinese authorities. The seminar provided an opportunity to explore the possibilities to work together with other jurisdictions outside Europe. ANEC was invited to moderate Panels 1 and 2, together with Orgalime, and to participate in the final panel discussion. Panellists concluded that cooperation was essential in ensuring effective market surveillance as markets are global and consumers buy more and more on-line. ANEC Senior Manager, Chiara Giovannini, stressed that enforcement is key to implementation of legislation and standardisation.
A video recording of this seminar is available at:
EU Sustainable Energy Week was held in Brussels on 23-27 June 2014.
On 24 June, ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, spoke alongside the European Commissioner for Energy, Günther Oettinger, on “The way forward for European Energy-Efficient Product Policy”. Mr Russell welcomed the successes of the Ecodesign Directive but underlined the need for it become more ambitious. Consumers were losing trust in product durability and he believed the Ecodesign Directive could be revised to address lifespan, together with resource efficiency, use of hazardous chemicals, recyclability and re-usability. He again called on the Commission to introduce a closed “A to G” energy label as consumers were confused by the plethora of “A-something plus” classes that had appeared on the market. Moreover, manufacturers were now resorting to dubious claims such as “A triple plus minus 50%”.
In concluding his presentation, he noted that resources committed to market surveillance & enforcement, although woefully inadequate today, would never be enough to meet demand. He said radical options had to be considered, including targeted profiling (using aspects such as country, product group, manufacturer, importer, retailer) and possibility to withdraw the Supplier’s Declaration from serious or repeat offenders. He also noted that civil society needed to test what it can do in checking the veracity of information made available to consumers, such as that on energy efficiency. He said the Energy Saving Trust in the UK had found one in five appliances to be wrongly labelled, a practice that, taken across the EU, cheated consumers out of 10,5B€ annually. Mr Russell ended by speaking about ANEC’s participation in MarketWatch.
A video recording of the session can be found at http://goo.gl/W2kWx9.
Mr Russell returned to these points the following day in a panel discussion on “Europe’s energy label – modernising the success story”.
MarketWatch at the EUSEW
MarketWatch, of which ANEC is a partner, presented its first results to an expert audience in Brussels as part of the EU Sustainable Energy Week (EUSEW) on 25 June.
According to a survey conducted by MarketWatch in 11 countries, retailers are failing a legal responsibility to provide energy efficiency information to online shoppers looking for fridges, TVs and other domestic appliances.
Read more in the press release at http://goo.gl/mgr3jE.
ANEC attends 2nd Dutch National Child Safety Conference
ANEC Senior Programme Manager, Tania Vandenberghe, attended the 2nd National Child Safety Conference held in Utrecht, the Netherlands, on 12 June. The conference was co-organised by ‘VeiligheidNL’, the Dutch member of the ANEC Child Safety Working Group.
The conference showed the number of fatal accidents due to drowning and burning has decreased in the Netherlands because of preventive actions and awareness campaigns. There are fewer fall injuries as well, possibly the result of a project running in primary schools to teach children how to fall in a safe way. Although mortality is decreasing, sports injuries are increasing as children are spending more time indoors (e.g. using computers) resulting in poorer motor skills. Research into the safety behaviour of parents with young children showed parents underestimate their children’s motor skills whilst overestimating their cognitive skills.
A group of children were asked how their safety could be increased. Their suggestions were to organise courses at school; introduce mandatory use of bicycle helmets; use safety barriers on stairs; foresee better closures on household (chemical) products, the better surfacing of playgrounds and fencing for ponds. The replies clearly showed the need for good safety standards to improve children’s safety and prevent accidents.
The conference demonstrated that registration of accident statistics is of utmost importance to set priorities for preventive actions & measures. This is a conclusion which reiterates ANEC’s call for the setting up of an EU accident statistics database.
The next conference will be dedicated to sports accidents and injuries.
For more, see http://goo.gl/Bn7fGK.
How can standardisation support the silver economy?
The 3rd European Standardisation Summit, held on 11 June in Istanbul, was dedicated to the theme of how standardisation can support the silver economy. The concept of 'silver economy' refers to a wide range of activities that meet the needs of older citizens & consumers. The event showed the readiness of the European Standards Organisations to work with stakeholders, including groups representing older citizens and consumers, in developing age-friendly standards that will meet the needs of an ageing population and support the growth of the silver economy in Europe.
To mark the event, ANEC published the Position paper ‘Wiser standards for an ageing world’. Since ANEC’s foundation, accessibility, and the safety of people with disabilities and older people, have been key among its priorities. Regrettably, standards tend to focus on mainstream consumers and do not always address the needs of older people. At the same time, ANEC believes standards can be suitable in making products and services safe and accessible to all consumers, whatever their age and ability. It is now high time for the needs of older and disabled people to be reflected in standards systematically.
ANEC Sustainability WG Chair at OECD
ANEC Sustainability Working Group Chair, Dr Franz Fiala, spoke at the OECD workshop, “Sustainable biomass drives the next bio-economy: a new industrial revolution?” held on 10-11 June in Paris.
The workshop aimed at exchanging information on role of biomass in driving the bio-economy and how this is interrelated with food-feed production.
Dr Fiala presented the ANEC position on life cycle assessment (LCA) methodologies, environmental footprint and alternative approaches. His intervention was well received. The event discussed the generally-held view that LCA is inappropriate for the assessment of biomass sustainability, for various reasons, including the fact that it does not take social or economic indicators into account.
Consultation on implementation of the EU Ecolabel Regulation
ANEC replied to an EC public consultation to support the evaluation of the Ecolabel. We our long experience of working on ecolabelling and participating in different EU Ecolabel criteria development processes, such as the EU Ecolabel for Buildings. Moreover, ANEC collaborates with BEUC and the European Environmental Bureau (EEB) in the European Union Ecolabelling Board (EUEB). Consumer organisations and environmental NGOs have long considered the Ecolabel as a label of environmental excellence which delivers clear and credible information to consumers with regard to the most environmentally friendly products on the market. The Ecolabel is a crucial instrument in facilitating sustainable purchasing decisions. The Ecolabel is still, seen by NGOs as a potentially powerful tool in encouraging environmental improvements in industry, and in helping consumers make informed purchasing decisions.
ANEC leaflet on Enhanced Child Restraint Systems (R129)
The new Regulation 129 (i-Size) was adopted in November 2012. It came into force on 9 July 2013. ANEC has since been addressed by journalists, professionals, manufacturers of Child Restraint Systems (CRS), parents & child carers wanting more information on this Regulation. Last month, ANEC published a leaflet to answer frequently-asked questions.
ANEC Annual Review 2013 published
In June, ANEC published its Annual Review 2013, an interactive e-publication showcasing our work and achievements last year. Please read it and tells us what you think!
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