Internal Market, Industry, Entrepreneurship and SMEs

Market surveillance for products

Market surveillance for products

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.

Challenges to the proper functioning of the market surveillance system

Several factors affect the market surveillance authorities' ability to check whether products made available in the EU are manufactured according to EU law:

  • Supply chains may be very complex and encompass several countries.
  • Economic operators may be located in a country different to those in which products are made available. Often, they are located outside the EU.
  • Consumers may purchase products through the internet.

What the European Commission does

EU market surveillance legislation

The major objective of the Commission is to ensure that 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).

The current legal framework

Regulation (EC) 765/2008 sets out the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products. The Regulation:

  • sets out clear obligations for EU countries to carry out market surveillance and to prohibit or restrict the marketing of dangerous or non-compliant products
  • provides market surveillance authorities the powers to obtain all necessary documentation from manufacturers to evaluate product conformity, to enter manufacturers' premises and take samples for testing, and in extreme cases to destroy products
  • includes clear obligations for EU countries to ensure cooperation at national and international level.

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.

Actions under the Single Market Strategy to increase compliance with EU product legislation

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.

New regulation on market surveillance and compliance of products

In June 2019 Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 on market surveillance and compliance of products was published, aiming at improving and modernising market surveillance. It will apply to 70 regulations and directives (listed in its Annex I) 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 will replace the market surveillance provisions of Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 as from 16 July 2021, and will improve 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

Related documents

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

Implementation of the market surveillance framework

Another objective is to facilitate the implementation of the market surveillance framework. In particular, the Commission supports the development of a common understanding of market surveillance issues and cooperation among national authorities. It does this through actions such as: