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.
© 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).
Anyone who buys domestic and sports equipment, toys, textiles, furniture, electrical equipment, personal 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 (Produktsicherheitsgesetz, 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 transposes it into German law.
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 European single market and thus contributes to improving the competitiveness of all economic operators. In order to achieve these objectives, it sanctions economic operators who economise on the safety of their products. If necessary, it even keeps them away from the market. However, this task, which is important for market activities, poses major challenges for market surveillance in the age of global commodity flows and online trading.
The range of tasks of market surveillance is clearly defined in Germany, primarily by the Market Surveillance Act (Marktüberwachungsgesetz, MüG):
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 Regulation (EU) 2019/1020 of the European Parliament and of the Council of 20 June 2019 on market surveillance and compliance of products and amending Directive 2004/42/EC and Regulations (EC) No 765/2008 and (EU) No 305/2011. 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 and non-compliant products across Europe.