Market surveillance ensures that non-food products on the EU market do not endanger European consumers and workers. It also ensures the protection of other public interests such as the environment, security and fairness in trade. It includes actions such as product withdrawals, recalls and the application of sanctions to stop the circulation of non-compliant products and/or bring them into compliance.
Why market surveillance is important
Market surveillance is crucial for the smooth functioning of the single market. It helps protect:
- consumers and workers against unsafe products and general non-compliance
- businesses from unfair competition by those who ignore the rules.
What the European Commission does
EU market surveillance legislation
EU market surveillance legislation provides
- clear and uniform rules applying to non-food products and economic operators
- requirements (infrastructure, organisation, legal powers, etc.) to ensure that market surveillance can cope with enforcing EU legislation
- streamlined market surveillance procedures for controlling products within the EU and at its borders (import controls)
- tools to coordinate activities carried out by national surveillance bodies across the EU (e.g. discussion forums, IT databases, and common market surveillance campaigns)
Guidance on tasks of economic operators under Article 4 of the new Market Surveillance Regulation
Under the new Market Surveillance Regulation (EU) 2019/1020, economic operators in the EU are obliged to share information and cooperate with market surveillance authorities. This guidance document explains the communication channels between economic operators and market surveillance authorities to ensure that sellers of certain categories of products have a designated representative established in the EU.
Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 on market surveillance and compliance of products was published, aiming to improve and modernise market surveillance. It applies to more than 70 regulations and directives that harmonise at EU level requirements on non-food products to protect consumers, health and safety, the environment and other public interests. Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 replaced the market surveillance provisions of Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 as from 16 July 2021, and improves them in particular by
- preventing non-compliance by providing information to and joint activities with businesses
- providing more effective enforcement tools to address online sales
- improved cooperation: between EU countries, between market surveillance and customs authorities, and through an EU product compliance network
Decision 768/2008/EC on a common framework for the marketing of products contains provisions on market surveillance, obligations of businesses, traceability and safeguard mechanisms. These provisions are being incorporated in sector specific legislation.
Directive 2001/95/EC (the General Product Safety Directive) contains additional market surveillance provisions, notably for non-harmonised consumer products.
The Single Market Strategy adopted on 28 October 2015 emphasised that the growing number of illegal and non-compliant products in the single market distorts competition among businesses and puts consumers at risk.
Market surveillance of products sold online
In July 2017, the Commission issued guidelines to help national market surveillance authorities better control products sold online. These guidelines clarify
- that any product sold online in the EU has to comply with EU product legislation, even if the producer is based outside the EU
- the obligations of online marketplaces when authorities require them to remove dangerous products through the 'notice and action procedure', as defined in the e-Commerce Directive
- the responsibility of all actors in the supply chain, including fulfilment service providers who receive the order, package and send the product
EU support for market surveillance
The Commission supports the development of a common understanding of market surveillance issues and cooperation among national authorities through actions such as
- regular contacts and policy discussions with national representatives in the EU Product Compliance Network
- the exchange of information on market surveillance programmes
- financial support to Administrative Cooperation Groups
- grants for joint actions
- provision of the ICSMS information systems for use by all market surveillance authorities.