The Internal Market has made trading goods within the
European Union a lot easier. For a large number of goods, such
as cars or cosmetics, common rules have been introduced at
European level. In a large number of sectors, however, trade
takes place without any prior harmonisation at European level.
These sectors benefit from the application of the so-called
“mutual recognition" principle, which means that when a good is
lawfully marketed in one Member State, other Member States
should "recognise" the conditions under which it is manufactured
and/or marketed and accept it onto their markets. Mutual
recognition is, however, subject to some restrictions. The
Member State of destination has the right to require that the
product offers at least an "equivalent" level of protection.
This concerns public safety, health or environmental protection.
Any measures taken by a Member State to restrict the flow of
goods coming from another Member State must be well founded,
necessary and proportionate. We know that the principle of
mutual recognition is not always correctly applied in practice.
This is sometimes due to a lack of information on the part of
market surveillance authorities, economic operators, or both.
Companies also complain about legal uncertainty and not knowing
whether the goods they sell will indeed offer an "equivalent"
protection level so that their goods can be sold in other Member
States. The Commission has taken the view that the application
of the mutual recognition principle needs to be improved without
at the same time compromising legitimate public interests.
Improvements are also necessary in the light of the expansion of
the Union to 25 Member States. The purpose of this consultation
is to learn more about how the operation of this principle
affects your business whether you are a producer, exporter,
importer or distributor of goods and to seek your opinion on a
number of options and solutions which could help improve its
- Executive summary
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