5th conference “experience exchange on market surveillance”
On 10 and 11 June 2015, the fifth “experience exchange on market surveillance” conference took place in Stuttgart. The event serves as a welcome information and discussion forum in the field of product safety, as it gives participants from all industries the opportunity to meet representatives of the concerned authorities and to freely discuss in detail all sorts of market surveillance issues. Needless to say that we were in Stuttgart, too. Based on our impressions gained there, we would like to inform you about two interesting topics:
1. Market surveillance in e-commerce
All speakers at the event agreed that online trade presents market surveillance with major challenges. Numerous products falling within the scope of application of the German Product Safety Act are sold directly via the internet, in particular via online platforms or online shops, to German buyers and consumers. Frequently, the parties involved in the distribution chain are based in countries outside the European Union, which is why they are often out of reach for national market surveillance authorities. Another obstacle for market surveillance lies in the fact that while the online platforms and, above all, the “fulfillment centers” play a very significant role in online distribution, they can legally hardly be classified as economic operator (i.e., manufacturer, importer or distributor). They therefore operate in a sort of “twilight zone” where governmental surveillance and sanction mechanisms reach their limits.
Both the market surveillance bodies and the business community have therefore identified a need for action to be taken by the legislator in order to ensure efficient governmental control of these players as well.
2. Efforts by the European Commission to establish a database for conformity documents
The European Commission is aiming towards “eCompliance”. Specifically, the Commission is discussing a (European) database that may be used by manufacturers for uploading conformity documents. It is unclear as of yet whether this will be a central or de-central system and whether uploading of the data will take place on a voluntary or mandatory basis. The required language version of the documents is also still an open issue. However, both the industrial associations (VDMA (German Engineering Association)/BITKOM (German Association for Information Technology, Telecommunications and New Media) as well as market surveillance authorities view these efforts of the Commission critically, since the database requires high input (maintenance/updating) and it is very difficult to achieve data safety.
Please contact: Dr. Simon Menz
Practice Group: Litigation, Arbitration & ADR