Child Safety

Toxic slime toys to be discussed

In a joint letter, ANEC and BEUC alerted the European Commission (EC) to excessive quantities of boron in some slime toys, following tests carried out by 8 national consumer organisations.

The results showed European consumers are able to buy slime toys that do not comply with EU legislation and can jeopardise consumers’ health. In Germany, for example, out of 5 products tested, 5 were found non-compliant and released twice, three times or even more than three times as much boron as is allowed. In Austria, 4 out of 6 slime toys tested were found non-compliant. Over-exposure to boron can cause skin irritation, diarrhoea, vomiting and cramps in the short-term. Exposure to very high levels of boron can impair fertility and could cause harm to an unborn child.

ANEC and BEUC called on the EC to distribute our letter to Member States with a view to coordinating national enforcement actions in order to remove these non-compliant toys from the Single Market. In response, the EC has invited us to present the issue at the next Toys-ADCO meeting in April.

We will keep you updated.



Web Accessibility standard cited in OJEU

EN 301 549 ‘Accessibility requirements for ICT products and services’ (version 2.1.2) has become the first Harmonised Standard which aims to aid compliance with legal requirements on web accessibility.

ANEC welcomes publication of the EN 301 549, which was drafted by the CEN/CENELEC/ETSI JWG ‘eAccessibility’ and ETSI TC ‘Human Factors’, with the full participation of ANEC’s experts. In December, a reference to EN 301 549 was published in the Official Journal of the European Union (OJEU) in order for the standard to provide presumption of conformity to Directive (EU) 2016/2102 on web and apps accessibility.

Member States have until September 2019 to make public websites accessible for consumers of all ages and abilities.

NLEd7 9

Inclusive service: consumers in vulnerable situations

ISO/PC 311 is a project committee which was established in 2017 for standardisation in the field of services for all consumers. ANEC is contributing to the drafting of its first standard: ISO 22458 ‘Inclusive Service: identifying and responding to consumers in vulnerable situations’.

Our contributions are based on our long-time assessment that all consumers, irrespective of age and/or knowledge, can become vulnerable at certain times – for example, in having access to knowledge needed to make an optimal choice - and as a result, there is a greater risk of consumer detriment (“the situational dimension”).

Although work it is still at an early stage, ANEC is pleased by the progress made and will continue to ensure that consumers’ interests are safeguarded.



Environmental Footprint methods potentially unreliable

The EC is exploring how to use Product and Organisation Environmental Footprint methods in policy. In this context, it has launched a series of consultations, with a specific questionnaire for NGOs. At the end of 2018, ANEC answered this questionnaire and explained it is our view that the Product Environmental Footprint information should NOT be made available as consumer information on products, as it cannot be reliable or useful, nor can it help consumers choose an environmentally-friendly product. Among the methodological limitations of the LCA Approach are: lack of precision, limited comparability, difficulty in identifying superior products, or omission of relevant environmental aspects. We also shared our position paper, ‘Environmental assessment goes astray’. A critique of environmental footprint methodology and its ingredients', which provides detail on the constraints of the LCA method and gives an alternative approach.

EU product policies in a circular economy

On 23 January, ANEC provided its recommendations in DG Environment consultation ‘Towards an EU Product Policy Framework contributing to the Circular Economy’.

The aim of this consultation is to help the EC identify “how far the current EU product policy framework is supportive to a circular economy and what potential there is for increasing this contribution”.

Further to our response, we also summarised our views in an annex. We focus on three key issues: the call for increased synergy among existing successful product policies, the need to tackle hazardous chemicals in consumer products systematically, and rejection of consumer information based on the LCA approach.



Software and upgrades affect repairability and durability 

ANEC continues to work in CEN-CENELEC TC 10 ‘Material Efficiency Aspects for Ecodesign', providing expert feedback on the horizontal standards under development on Durability and Repairability.

We have voiced our opinion that software and the upgrades are currently not tackled enough, even though they are important durability aspects. We ask that additional focus is put on providing software updates, especially security patches and software support throughout the whole lifetime of product. Similarly, for repairability, we suggest that the draft standards have a special focus on the evaluation of regular software and firmware upgrades, especially those connected with security patches and possible extending of lifetime of product (e.g. the ability to keep working with new or upgraded operating systems).


Digital Society

EC opens consultation on AI ethics guidelines

ANEC is a member of the High-Level Expert Group on Artificial Intelligence (HLEG AI), established in June 2018 to support the implementation of the EC Strategy on Artificial Intelligence.

The HLEG AI has drafted Ethics Guidelines for Trustworthy Artificial Intelligence, now out for public consultation. The guidelines cover issues such as consumer protection, accessibility and privacy, and aim at achieving trustworthy AI in Europe, based on two components: (1) that AI should respect fundamental rights, applicable regulation and core principles and values, ensuring an “ethical purpose” and (2) AI should be technically robust and reliable since, even with good intentions, a lack of technological mastery can cause unintentional harm.

The guidelines will be finalised and published soon. The HLEG will then work on regulatory and policy recommendations for AI.

More information on the draft guidelines can be found at the link.

EC consultation on standard chargers

For many years, ANEC has been calling for the adoption of mandatory provision for standard chargers for mobile devices. Hence we are delighted to have achieved an EC consultation on the possible adoption of a Delegated Act (secondary legislation) to make common chargers mandatory (on the basis of Article 3(3)(a) of the Radio Equipment Directive/RED (2014/53/EU) or a separate legislation).

So far, the EC has favoured a voluntary approach from industry to common chargers. However, an industry Memorandum of Understanding, published in March 2018, does not provide a strong commitment to the use of common chargers. We will continue to push for mandatory common chargers, not only for smart phones, but also similar devices (e.g.: tablets).

More information on the Roadmap for standard chargers for mobile phones can be found at the link.

smart phone



ANEC ambitions on customer satisfaction

Customer satisfaction is the goal for providers and recipients of goods and service. The concept embraces the key consumer principles of access, information and redress. Quality management standards, now better known as systems management standards, initially dealt with consistency of the production processes, rather than guaranteeing the safety of a product or its quality. Over the years, due to consumer pressure, the basic standards have become more relevant for consumers, particularly noting the introduction of a suite of standards covering complaints handling and e-commerce - the ISO 10000 series - which was streamlined in 2018 to reinforce consistency among the series.

ANEC would have liked a wider revision of the ISO 10000 standards. We will continue encouraging national standard bodies to bring forward the next scheduled revision of the series. We want to see all the standards revised to become requirements standards, rather than guidelines, and to be brought up-to-date to take account of the online environment and use of social media. 

EP confirms problems found by ANEC

On 22 January, the European Parliament (EP) ENVI Committee approved a draft own-initiative EP report by MEP Belet on the implementation of the cross-border Healthcare Directive.

The report analyses the current shortcomings in the directive’s implementation. Similarly to what was found in the ANEC technical study on cross-border healthcare, the rapporteur noted citizens’ awareness about their general rights to reimbursement is extremely low. Other reasons the report finds for low patient mobility regard lateness in the implementation of the Directive in some Member States, and transposition in ways that can be seen as limiting cross-border healthcare. The report criticises the proposed cut in funding for the health programme, and asks the EC to continue structured dialogues with Member States. It requests them to assess, realign and drastically simplify reimbursement procedures for patients receiving cross-border care.

The rapporteur welcomed an assessment carried out by the EC on the implementation of the Directive, through its report on the operation of the Cross-Border Healthcare Directive.

DG SANTE recently confirmed the need for increased consumer awareness about cross-border healthcare rights and intends to place greater emphasis on the interconnection of healthcare systems through e-health.

The debate and vote on the report in the EP plenary are scheduled for 11-12 February 2019. ANEC will follow with interest these next stages, in light of recommendations from our study and our contributions to European healthcare-related standardisation.

ANEC factsheet on cross border healthcare


Traffic and Mobility

Connected and Automated Mobility (CAM)

The EC is exploring the main challenges linked to the deployment of connected and automated cars. Part of this is being done through conducting an open public consultation to investigate cybersecurity threats, trust issues, data governance aspects (e.g. governance models; principles for car data sharing), as well as privacy and data protection and technological needs.

Through the consultation, ANEC has stressed the omission of the concept of purpose limitation, which is crucial as it must be clear to consumers what their data will be used for. There is not always a clear split in questions regarding personal and anonymised data, e.g. location and driving style are personal, and data protection laws (including GDPR) should be obeyed. A similar question is how to ensure anonymised data is truly anonymous. Companies cannot and should not ask for more data than necessary, and it should be clear what the data will be used for. Consumers need to be assured that detriment will not arise from the sharing of their data.


News from ANEC member countries

ANEC expert wins the BSI Consumer Voice Award 2018

Last November, Peter Eisenegger received the BSI Consumer Voice Award 2018. This award recognises an exceptional contribution to standards development by a consumer representative who has demonstrably contributed to standards so that they recognise the needs of consumers.
ANEC is proud to have Peter as an expert on privacy and the internet of things. We congratulate him on this award, recognising his long-standing work and dedication in ensuring the consumer voice in heard.

Peter Eisenegger receiving award

Peter Eisenegger (right) receiving the award from BSI Director of Standards, Dr Scott Steedman CBE



List of comments 2019 List of meetings 2019

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