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Market Surveillance - an Eye on Everything all over Europe

Products must be safe. But that is not always the case.

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 major and priority objectives of the European Union (EU).

State market surveillance

Anyone who buys household 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, in practice it is clear that cases of burning household appliances or accumulators, contaminated tattoo paints or allergy-releasing textiles have been increasingly known.
State market surveillance is there to ensure that dangerous products are not detected by accident but systematically. This body exists in all Member States of the European Union. In Germany, it supervises inter alia compliance with the Product Safety Act (ProdSG) with its subordinate 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 the citizens from unsafe products. On the other hand, it strengthens fair competition within the Single 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 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 tasks of market surveillance extend across national boundaries. The market surveillance

  • Controlling and monitoring the products on the market in order to comply with the existing legislation
  • Inform the public, the 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, dealers, if applicable)
  • 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 aiming together to achieve a complete European-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 Community 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.


Tools of Market Surveillance