ANEC signed the Joint Standardisation Initiative (JIES) in Amsterdam on 13 June. The signing ceremony was part of a Single Market Forum hosted by the Dutch Presidency of the EU. President Arnold Pindar signed the JIES on behalf of ANEC. Other signatories included Commissioner Bienkowska on behalf of the European Commission; the EFTA Member States; CEN, CENELEC & ETSI; National Standardisation Bodies, various European business federations and the three other “Annex III Organisations” recognised under Regulation (EU) 1025/2012 (ECOS, ETUC & SBS). More organisations will sign on to the principles of the JIES in Brussels on 12 July. EU Member States will sign in the margins of a meeting of the Competiveness Council under Slovakian Presidency of the EU in September.
The JIES sets out a vision to modernise the European Standardisation System. A series of actions will now be developed over the summer to implement the vision document signed in Amsterdam. The actions will be announced on 14 October, World Standards Day. ANEC is a member of the Steering Group responsible for agreeing the actions. The Steering Group met for the first time on 28 June.
ANEC believes the strength of the Single Market can be measured by the inclusiveness of the European Standardisation System underpinning it. Hence we will support actions under the JIES that are intended to improve the inclusiveness of the standards process at the European and national levels.
You can read more about the ANEC reaction to the signature of the JIES in the related press release.
The annual meeting of the ANEC General Assembly took place on 14-15 June in Brussels. A cocktail & dinner to mark the association’s 21st anniversary was held on the evening of 14 June at the Thon Hotel EU. Participants included General Assembly members & observers, key European partners and former ANEC office bearers.
Further to a welcome from ANEC President Arnold Pindar, keynote speeches were made by European Commissioner Vera Jourová and EFTA Deputy Secretary-General Dag Wernø Holter. Amanda Long, the Director-General of Consumers International, and Bruce Farquhar, former ANEC Secretary-General, sent best wishes by video message. Elena Santiago, CEN-CENELEC Director-General, presented Mr Pindar with a plaque recording the appreciation of the CEN & CENELEC communities on ANEC’s “outstanding contributions” over 21 years.
At its meeting on 14-15 June, the ANEC General Assembly received the ANEC Annual Review 2015, which provides a summary of the previous calendar year, with hyperlinks to supporting documentation. The Annual Review is also available in an accessible pdf version.
In order to mark the 21st anniversary of ANEC this year, a special insert to the printed Annual Review was also published, comprising 21 testimonials from the European institutions and our European partners.
A full set of testimonials, featuring congratulations from many ANEC experts of long-standing, is also publicly available. See http://goo.gl/JMueCq.
The “Standardisation Package II”
The Joint Initiative on Standardisation forms part of a European Commission Communication, “European Standards for the 21st century”, published as part of a Standardisation Package II on 1 June (five years to the day after the publication of the first Package which included the proposal for a Regulation on European Standardisation, later Regulation (EU) 1025/2012).
The Opinion was drafted by the study group on Single Market, Production & Consumption, chaired by the Polish member of the ANEC General Assembly, Elzbieta Szadzinska, and with the participation of Benedicte Federspiel, the Danish member of the ANEC General Assembly.
The Opinion asks the European Standardisation Organisations to ensure greater inclusiveness of weaker stakeholders, including consumers, in the European Standardisation System. It also calls on the EESC to create an annual forum to takes stock of progress.
Noting the result of the United Kingdom’s referendum on continued membership of the EU, ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, wrote to ANEC’s members and experts on 24 June to stress it would be “business as usual” until negotiations following the expected use of Art 50 TFEU by the British government indicate otherwise. In the meantime, he confirmed and welcomed the continued participation of United Kingdom experts in ANEC and its activities.
ANEC interviewed on service standards
CEN-CENELEC partnered with ISO in a social media campaign on service standards from 13 – 17 June. During the campaign, they promoted the topics of customer service, finance, IT, tourism and public services.
Service standardisation is an area of priority for ANEC. Hence we contributed to the campaign through two short video testimonials on “What do services bring to consumers?”. In the first video, ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, speaks on why European standards for services are important to consumers. He notes that, as the free movement of services is one of the four fundamental freedoms of the EU, consumers are entitled to receive services in a different Member State from their country of residence. Although ANEC believes a European legislative framework on the safety of services is needed to ensure a level regulatory playing field – as in the case of products – European standards can nevertheless contribute to the protection of consumers across Europe.
In the second video, he reviews ANEC priorities in 2016-2017 in service standardisation: horizontal services standardisation; healthcare and support services, and the improvement of consumer experiences in cross border services related to e-commerce.
An OECD global awareness-raising campaign on corded window coverings runs from 23 to 30 June. The campaign aims at informing consumers about the dangers to young children that corded window coverings pose and encourages preventive action in homes - including holiday homes - where young children live or visit. ANEC joined OECD in warning of the dangers of window blind cords and issued the press release “Window blind cords can kill”.
Roller blinds, or other window blinds, are found in many homes. Sadly, children are at risk of injury - even strangulation - from the cords used to operate blinds. Even more regrettably, there have been cases of children dying after becoming entangled in cords. Following a request from ANEC in 2010, work in CEN, led to the adoption of 3 European Standards that introduced requirements for safety devices to stop cords or chains from forming a hazard; for the installation & testing of these devices; for warnings & instructions and the packaging and point-of-sale information. ANEC was delighted to help CEN develop these standards in the public interest. Nevertheless, blinds already installed in homes continue to cause concern. We believe heightening public awareness is vital in countering the risk and hence we support the OECD #SafeWindowCovering campaign"
The text covers websites and mobile apps of public sector bodies with a limited number of exceptions (e.g. broadcasters, livestreaming). ANEC is pleased the text refers to standards to achieve better accessibility. The draft directive also requires regular monitoring by Member States, with reports communicated to the EC and made publicly available.
Once the text has undergone legal-linguistic finalisation, it needs to be formally approved first by the Council and then by the Parliament. The procedure is expected to be completed in the autumn. For more information, please see the official Council press release.
Launch of Pay-able
Pay-able is a platform that strives for barrier free access to payment terminals for all. The initiative - a cross-sectoral, single-issue European platform - is supported by ANEC, as well as BEUC, AGE Platform Europe, the European Disability Forum (EDF), and the European Blind Union (EBU). It intends to encourage industry to develop a next generation of payment terminals with the needs of disabled and elderly people in mind.
The official launch event of Pay-able was held on 22 June 2016, hosted by MEP Ádám Kósa. Keynote speakers included Mokrane Boussaïd, Director of the EBU, Inmaculada Placencia Porrero, European Commission, and Jan van der Velden from the Dutch Presidency of the Council of the EU. Eva Hodges, Permanent Representation of the Slovak Republic to the EU, stated that accessibility would be a priority of the Slovak Presidency of the Council of the EU (which runs during the second-half of 2016).
The 6th Carbon Monoxide Round Table was held on 1 June 2016 in the European Parliament.
The event, hosted by MEPs Linda McAvan and Marian Harkin, was divided into three sessions: the first one on safety of gas appliances; the second on safety of tourism accommodation; the third on data collection and compilation of incidents involving carbon monoxide (CO).
ANEC was invited to speak during the second session. We presented an update on initiatives to prevent the indoor use of barbecues. We marked the Round Table by issuing the press release ‘A barbecue grill can kill: do not use it indoors’ in which we urge consumers never to take a charcoal barbecue inside because of the risk of CO poisoning. It is not unusual for consumers who go camping or caravanning to take the barbecue inside, either to cook in the case of bad weather or to heat the accommodation. Sadly, most are unaware that the indoor use of charcoal barbecue grills creates an accumulation of carbon monoxide which can kill or permanently disable.
CEN is working on an amendment to the standard EN 1860-1 to introduce a pictogram on the barbecue to warn consumers not to use it indoors. ANEC takes part in this work.
Critics often present Ecodesign as EU interference in the everyday life of European citizens and an intrusive editing of free-market choice. These claims are rarely substantiated by facts and leave out the potential benefits in terms of savings when the appliance is being used.
Panellists from the European Commission, CECED, BEUC, Eurocommerce and ECOS debated actions to improve Ecodesign policies by matching real-life conditions to consumer needs. The main conclusions from the event were that ecodesign makes products more innovative and allow consumers to make financial savings. Hence communication to consumers is key.
Chemicals – is the EU framework adequate?
The European Commission is conducting a ‘regulatory fitness check’ (REFIT) to evaluate the functioning of the legislative framework for chemicals and whether it is still fit for purpose.
ANEC and BEUC prepared a joint response to the main public consultation on the regulatory fitness of chemicals legislation (excluding REACH). Although the EU legislative framework on chemicals is vital for protecting human health and the environment, the legislative provisions are not effectively implemented. The current system of evaluating and managing chemicals hazards is outdated and not in line with latest scientific findings, especially as regards mixture toxicity, hormone-disrupting chemicals and nanomaterials. The market surveillance system is ineffective and inefficient and the EU must unblock the Product Safety Package, delayed in Council, to create a EU-based and more harmonised system.
The ETSI TC ‘Human Factors’ (HF) met on 15-16 June 2016 in Dublin. ANEC presented its proposal of a New Work Item for a Technical Report dealing with open issues for consumers and citizens in smart cities and the need for standardisation actions to be initiated. We are pleased that, following clarification of the scope, the proposal was supported by ETSI TC HF.
Limits in EMF standards
Following an ANEC request, the European Commission has confirmed the limits of the Council Recommendation of 12 July 1999, on the limitation of exposure of the general public to electromagnetic fields (0 Hz to 300 GHz), are still considered state of the art. Hence, the Commission agrees that the Recommendation should be the basis for the work of CENELEC TC 106X “Electromagnetic fields in the human environment” on product standards prepared under Mandate M/536. The standards work was suspended because of a lack of agreement on setting limits in standards. ANEC welcomes the confirmation that the Recommendation is still considered definitive and looks forward to the rapid development of standards, noting the Radio Equipment Directive itself became applicable in mid-June 2016.
Cross border e–commerce – How International Standards can help
ANEC and CI drew attention to the vital role service standards can play in European consumer protection, underpinning legislation and providing the detailed guidance that organisations need to deliver services which respond to consumer expectations. Online platforms are a part of everyday life for millions of European consumers who use the internet to buy goods and services (such as transport, accommodation, holidays, financial services and healthcare).
ANEC and CI are collaborating on the development of a new International Standard for Online Reviews in ISO/TC 290 to ensure the standard addresses key consumer requirements.
Participants debated whether service standards should be sector-specific or horizontal and whether a tiered approach for standards is needed, considering the different requirements of differently-sized organisations. The workshop concluded that national organisations should share national strategies and best practices for service standards prior to the development of international standards.
ANEC and CI supported ISO/IEC Guide 76 ‘Development of service standards -- Recommendations for addressing consumer issues’ as a useful tool for solving the problems and challenges in services standardisation. Julie Hunter presented the consumer perspective and our involvement in the ongoing revision of Guide 76. Many public services (e.g. water, energy) are essential and the risk of consumer detriment is high. Although regulation gives mandatory requirements to service providers, standards could underpin legislation by giving detailed guidance to service providers on how requirements could be achieved.
ISO work on bicycles
ISO TC 149 SC 1 ‘Cycles and major sub-assemblies’ and its Working Groups met in Shanghai on 10-13 May 2016.
Revision of the standards EN ISO 4210: 2014, EN ISO 8098: 2014 (city-trekking, mountain, racing and young adult bicycles), ISO 8090: 1990 (Cycles – terminology), as well as a new standard for Electrically Power Assisted Cycles (EPACs), were discussed.
Before the meeting, ANEC wrote with proposals for the new standard on EPACs, including that it be based on EN 15194, the European Standard for EPACs, and ensures compliance with the Machinery Directive 2006/42/EC. We also proposed to add “mountain EPACs” with specific requirements for their components, and to add requirements for interoperable plug & socket solutions for charging.
We will continue to participate in both the ISO and CEN work on bicycles.
ANEC in work on first European standard for PLEVs
ANEC welcomes the start of work in CEN on Personal Light Electric Vehicles (PLEVs). We contributed to first discussions in CEN/TC 354/WG 4 by asking for the introduction of further requirements on anti-tempering and reflectors. We also were successful in extending the work to cover “hoverboards” and in influencing the “street legal” requirements for Class 2 PLEVs.
The new work item is now registered and the official time schedule of CEN applies. The draft standard shall be published within one year and ANEC will continue participation as to assure that European consumers’ voice is reflected in the first European standard for light electric and self-balancing vehicles.
In memory of Wanda Geisendorf
It was with deep sadness that we learned of the passing of Wanda Geisendorf, toy safety expert and Swedish member of the ANEC Child Safety Working Group.
Wanda worked for many years for the Swedish Consumer Agency ‘Konsumentverket’ and also represented Sweden in the European Commission’s Toy Expert Group. After her retirement from Konsumentverket, she became more involved in the work of ANEC and was nominated as ANEC representative to CEN TC 52 ‘Safety of Toys’ and its WG3 ‘Mechanical and physical properties’.
Wanda was hardworking, dedicated and very enthusiastic. She was always constructive during discussions and never gave up: her passion was to make toys safer for children.
Anne Smith, ANEC Child Safety Working Group Co-Chair, said, “Wanda was an inspiration. She knew her subject so well and never gave up on any issue she felt needed addressing”. Helen Amundsen, our other Child Safety Working Group Co-Chair added, “She will really be missed. She has been a mentor for me since I started in the consumer area”.
ANEC was privileged to have Wanda as one of its experts and friends. We are grateful to have known Wanda, to have worked with her, and to have learned from her. We shall miss her. Our thoughts go to her family and friends.
The photo shows Wanda at an ANEC-BEUC event in the European Parliament (2008) where she spoke on revision of the Toy Safety Directive.
News from ANEC member countries
Czechia - On 5 May, the Czech Consumer Association, under the Swiss-Czech cooperation and with the Cabinet for Standardization, organised the national conference on "Vulnerable Consumers and Standards - 2016 ".
The discussion considered the definition of vulnerable consumers and how to reflect their needs in standards & technical regulations. The conference called on the practical experiences of civil servants; ÚNMZ, the national standards body; professional associations; consumer organisations and associations for persons with disabilities, among others. About 65 people attended the conference and associated press conference.
A package of recommendations was formulated as the conclusion of the conference to draw attention to standardisation and its role in reflecting the needs and expectations of vulnerable consumers in products and services.
The event featured two booklets issued by the Czech Consumer Association: “Accessibility of products and services for vulnerable consumers” and “Vulnerable consumers: who are they? How to protect them?”.
The conference was one of several activities of the Czech Consumer Association and Cabinet for Standardization aimed at promoting the development of standards and use of standards. These are supported by the Swiss Government, ÚNMZ and the Quality Council of the Czech Republic. All seek to support consumer participation in standardisation.
13 OCTOBER 2016 - SAVE THE DATE!
ANEC, together with ECOS and ETUC, its societal partners in European standardisation, will host a common event on standardisation in Brussels on 13 October 2016. The event is aimed at presenting and promoting the societal stakeholder view of the European Standardisation System, including topics such as inclusiveness; the added value of societal stakeholders in standardisation; the relationship between legislation and standardisation.
The event is for all those interested in the role of standards for the society at large, including MEPs, Institutional officials, standardisers, consumer associations, environmental NGOs, trade unions.