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.

Product Safety and Market Surveillance Package

In 2013, the European Commission adopted a proposal for new rules improving the safety of consumer products and market surveillance for all non-food products. The proposal should enhance consumer product safety and strengthen market surveillance over products in the EU.

The content of the package

  • A communication outlining the various elements of the package (COM(2013)74)
  • A proposal for a Regulation on market surveillance of products (COM(2013)75)
  • A multi-annual plan for market surveillance of products (COM(2013)76)
  • A report on the implementation of Regulation (EC) No 765/2008 (COM(2013)77)
  • A proposal for a Regulation on consumer product safety (COM(2013)78)
  • A Commission staff working document on accreditation (SWD(2013)35)
  • A Commission staff working document on market surveillance (SWD(2013)36)
  • Impact assessment and annexes (SWD(2013)33 pdf (400 KB) and SWD(2013)33 Annexes pdf (2 MB))
  • Executive summary of the impact assessment (SWD(2013) 34)

For more information on the package, see the press release and the memo.

The proposed Consumer Product Safety Regulation contains a provision of the indication of the product's country of origin. An analysis was conducted to assess the potential costs and benefits of origin labelling to national authorities, consumers, and businesses.

See the Study: Implementation of the new regulation on market surveillance: indication of origin.

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. Therefore, the Commission will launch a comprehensive set of actions to further enhance efforts to promote compliance and to keep non-compliant products from the EU market by strengthening market surveillance and providing the right incentives to economic operators.

In October 2016, the Commission launched an public consultation on these possible actions. The contributions to the consultation are available. 

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: