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Market Surveillance - an Eye on Everything all over Europe

Products must be safe. Unfortunately, in some cases they are not.

The objectives of market surveillance are: to protect citizens from unsafe products and strengthen fair competition.

Duisburg container port © Uwe Völkner, Fotoagentur FOX

Whether it's about children's toys, machines or tools: products must be safe. After all, the health and safety of all citizens is one of the primary objectives of the European Union (EU).

National market surveillance

Anyone who buys domestic and sports equipment, toys, textiles, furniture, electrical appliances and items, protective equipment or machines, relies on the fact that they are not a threat to health and life. However, cases of burning household appliances or accumulators, contaminated tattoo paints or allergenic textiles arise on a regular basis.
National market surveillance is there to ensure that dangerous products are not detected by accident but systematically. This institution exists in all Member States of the European Union. In Germany, among other things, it supervises compliance with the Product Safety Act (ProdSG) and related ordinances. The ProdSG takes into account the Product Safety Directive (European Directive 2001/95/EC of the European Parliament and of the Council of 3 December 2001 on General Product Safety (GPSD)) and implements it into German law.

Objectives and strategies

The goal of market surveillance is, on the one hand, the protection of citizens from unsafe products. On the other hand, it strengthens fair competition within the domestic market and thus contributes to improving the competitiveness of all economic stakeholders. In order to achieve these objectives, it sanctions market actors who economise on the security of their products. If necessary, it even keeps them away from the market. However, this task, which is important for market events, poses major challenges for market surveillance in the age of global commodity flows and online trading.

Range of tasks of market surveillance

The range of tasks of market surveillance is clearly defined in the Product Safety Act (ProdSG):

  • Controlling and monitoring the products on the market in order to comply with the existing legislation
  • Informing the public, other Member States and the European Commission of the presence of dangerous products
  • Introduction of measures to ensure conformity in the event of infringement of the legislation, for example sanctioning the persons responsible (manufacturers, authorised representatives, importers, or, if applicable, dealers)
  • Cooperation with all involved economic actors to preventively avoid the distribution of nonconforming products

The tasks of market surveillance extend across national boundaries. The market surveillance authorities of the EU Member States are involved in a joint effort to achieve a complete Europe-wide surveillance of the products already in circulation. The same applies to efficient surveillance of products having been launched on the market recently.

A binding legal framework for joint market surveillance is provided by "EC Regulation No 765/2008 on the requirements for accreditation and market surveillance relating to the marketing of products". Among other things, it regulates the support of the market surveillance authorities through networks which enable a rapid and smooth exchange of information on dangerous products across Europe.

Competences

Tools of Market Surveillance