The role of market surveillance authorities

Market surveillance is the activity carried out by authorities to ensure that products on the market are conform to the applicable laws and regulations and comply with the existing EU health and safety requirements. It is crucial to keep the European market safe and to foster trust among consumers and economic operators. It also helps maintain a level playing field to those companies that comply and thus avoid losing market share to rogue traders.

Market surveillance covers a full range of actions, including the monitoring and control of the market and, where necessary, the imposition of corrective measures and penalties. It involves close contacts of authorities with economic operators (manufacturers, importers, distributors, online platforms, retail shops) as well as with consumers and consumer organisations.

In the EU, the national market surveillance authorities are responsible for carrying out market surveillance. They are also responsible for taking the appropriate measures in case they find a dangerous product. To this end, they take samples for inspection or proceed to assembling samples not only from brick-and-mortar shops but also from the online market that they test in specialised laboratories.

Market surveillance authorities cooperate closely with customs, that can prevent unsafe or non-compliant products from entering the EU market and are the first filter to control imported goods.

More information about market surveillance on:

https://ec.europa.eu/growth/single-market/goods/building-blocks/market-surveillance/organisation_en

 

Coordinated activities

The European Commission finances coordinated activities between Member States market surveillance authorities. They allow joint testing activities and the exchange of best practices on market surveillance with the aim to keep our market safe. The coordinated activities on the safety of products (CASP) are built around annual programmes and include:

  • product related activities (tests of samples and assessment of the risks identified through such testing),
  • horizontal activities on common priorities (aimed at sharing knowledge, exchanging best practices and finding common approaches),
  • other ad-hoc activities linked to new, emerging or emergency issues.

CASP is a very flexible tool that responds very quickly to the national authorities’ priorities and needs.

Reporting measures to Safety Gate

When national authorities find unsafe products, they impose measures or order the concerned economic operators to take action, in order to avoid that these products remain on the market and cause accidents. Depending on the risk identified, products can be rejected already at the borders by customs, a sales ban can be imposed or warning messages can be circulated. If the product is already in the hands of consumers, recall actions can be requested. Businesses themselves also must take the necessary initiatives to ensure that they only place safe products on the market and inform authorities if they encounter issues. This can lead to the adoption of voluntary measures directly by them.

All these measures are reported on Safety Gate, which allows the quick dissemination of the information to all national authorities in the system, so they can also easily trace the dangerous products and take measures in their own countries to ensure that the European single market remains safe.