Market surveillance plays a crucial role in the field of consumer product safety as even the best rules are worth little if they are not enforced properly. Effective market surveillance is important not only to protect consumers from dangerous products but also to ensure a level playing field for reputable businesses.
In the European Union, market surveillance for non-food consumer products is the responsibility of the Member States. Relevant national authorities check whether products meet the applicable safety requirements, they take necessary steps to make sure that products are compliant, and apply sanctions when necessary.
Currently, a new package of legislative and non-legislative measures to improve consumer product safety and to strengthen market surveillance is being discussed.
Multiannual plan for market surveillance
One of the key parts of the product safety and market surveillance package is the multiannual plan for market surveillance. It sets out individual actions that the Commission should take over the next three years to improve surveillance for products in the EU. The plan aims to fill in the existing gaps and make the surveillance of the single market for products (with the exception of food, feed and medicines) more efficient and operational by assisting national authorities in performing their tasks.
Role of customs
Given the ever-growing imports into the European Union from third countries, guaranteeing the safety of consumer products will increasingly rely on the ability of surveillance authorities to check for unsafe products before they enter the market. Therefore, customs authorities, with their ability to check goods coming into the internal market from outside the EU, have an important role in protecting the public from imported unsafe products.
This not only implies an ever-closer cooperation between market surveillance and customs authorities, but also between customs authorities of different Member States, for example, to avoid goods refused at one entry point from gaining access somewhere else.