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       Consumer Goods 01/02/2011
Towards a revision of the General Product Safety Directive

On 1 February, IMCO members voted on the draft report regarding the revision of the General Product Safety Directive and Market Surveillance. The report will represent the European Parliament's initial contribution to the debate on the revision of Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety expected to be launched by the Commission with a legislative proposal in June 2011.


Members welcome the draft report and support several of the key issues highlighted by the Rapporteur, Mrs Christel Schaldemose (Socialists/ Denmark). A total of 77 amendments have been tabled, especially regarding the proposals for a common European framework for market surveillance, allocation of resources for market surveillance in both Member States, training of customs officers and for an alignment of the General Product Safety Directive with Regulation 765/2008 on market surveillance. A number of compromises amendments are likely to be agreed.


 RAPPORTEUR: Christel Schaldemose (S&D, DK) - Dossier

SHADOWS: E-R. Korhola (EPP), J. Creutzmann (ALDE), H. Rühle (Greens/EFA), A. Fox (ECR), K. Triantaphyllides (GUE/NGL), M. Salvini (EFD).

VOTE IN PLENARY: 7-10 March 2011



Better protection for children


Fatal accidents in which children are strangled by loose curtain cords are among the issues addressed by Internal Market Committee MEPs in a report voted on Tuesday. In it, MEPs set out inputs to a forthcoming update of EU product safety rules, which is needed inter alia to enable faster withdrawal of dangerous products from the market.


"The committee today has endorsed proposals which would improve the safety for all citizens in the EU and at the same time sends a strong signal to the Commission about our priorities for the legislative update ahead" said rapporteur Christel Schaldemose (S&D, DK). Her own-initiative report by sets out inputs for an update of EU general product safety rules, to be initiated by the Commission later this year. It focuses on measures needed to protect children, market surveillance and other areas where reform is the most needed, such as customs checks on imports from third countries.



Improving the legislative framework to enhance safety


To enhance protection for children and other vulnerable consumers in the single market, market surveillance must be strengthened and legislation updated to permit faster and firmer action on products that could potentially jeopardize safety.


The committee points to a weakness in current product safety rules that stems from a partial overlap between 2001 General Product Safety Directive (2001/95/EC) and more recent rules (from 2008) on placing goods on the market and the use of CE marking. These two sets of rules need to be better co-ordinated in order to allow the system to respond faster to unsafe products, says the committee.



Products that appeal to children


The rapporteur had wished to introduce a new approach on "child-appealing products" i.e. those which, although not intended for children, might appeal to them due to their colours or design, such as colourful pens or kitchen implements. She also wished to include a call to the Commission to consider defining this concept more closely. However, this early proposal was voted down by the committee.



Market surveillance crucial to product safety


MEPs also highlight the importance of improving market surveillance, especially in European ports. They call on the Commission and Member States to step up surveillance and take tougher measures against illegal products entering the EU from third countries. The Commission should establish a common EU framework for market surveillance and play a more active role in co-ordinating the activities of customs authorities, say MEPs.


The committee also asks the Commission to establish a European database of all consumer complaints made through existing regional and national systems and to publish accident statistics based on the information gathered.



Next steps


The Schaldemose report, adopted in committee with 36 votes in favour and 2 abstentions, will be put to a plenary vote at the March session in Strasbourg.  


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