Monday February 15, 2021
EU Parliament Highlights Safety Goals in Consumer Agenda
A February report for the European Parliament lauded the current Consumer Agenda as seeking to address gaps in product safety oversight. Issues include the growth of online sales, and the document (bit.ly/3cVjKlu) asserts, "One in six people bought at least one item online in 2019. Yet while online shopping is now ubiquitous, European rules have lagged behind." Other areas deemed noteworthy include efforts to improve protections of vulnerable populations and ramping up attention to emerging technologies.
On the latter, the report pointed to legislators' late 2020 resolution to make product safety and surveillance rules "fit for the digital age." The authors observed:
"It calls for updated product safety rules that would tackle the challenges of emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, connected products, robotics and 3D printing. It encourages the Commission and Member States to increase the resources and expertise of their market surveillance authorities, including through the MFF single market programme. It also calls on the Commission to explore the option of requiring non-EU businesses to designate an economic operator in the EU for non-harmonised products, with the task of cooperating with EU market surveillance authorities in cases of product safety issues."
The current Consumer Agenda (PSL, 11/23/20) covers activity in 2020-2025. The EC sought feedback twice last year (PSL, 6/29/20 and 7/6/20). It addresses many consumer issues, not just product safety. It does so across five broad priorities: green transition, digital transition, redress/enforcement, the rights of certain groups (vulnerable populations, those without internet, etc.), and international cooperation.
The new report asserts that the COVID-19 pandemic "has revealed gaps in EU consumer protection." Some worries – like flight cancellation policies – are outside product safety. Others are not, such as sales of protective devices/cleaners and increased online shopping.