On 1 March, MEPs Anderson and Borzan hosted a debate on the proposed Regulation on cross-border parcel delivery services, part of a package to boost e-commerce. The MEPs are the EP Rapporteurs for the TRAN and IMCO committees on the proposal which aims at achieving more efficiency, transparency on delivery times, and affordable prices.
The event allowed postal operators and stakeholders to give their views on the proposal. ANEC President, Arnold Pindar, gave the consumer perspective reflecting ANEC research. We believe lower prices for consumers can be expected to result from competition but this should not result in a decrease in the quality of services provided nor in an uneven playing field for operators.
Mr Pindar confirmed consumer confidence would benefit from improved requirements for transparent and comparable information on available delivery options; more guidance on procedures for damage, loss of goods, delays and returns, and complaints handling. He also explained the role standards should play in delivering these benefits.
On 7 February, a breakfast debate on European Standards for the 21st century, hosted by Marlene Mizzi MEP, was held in the European Parliament.
The event offered opportunity for an open discussion of key challenges facing European standardisation, including those identified in the EC Communication of June 2016. These included a single approach towards standardisation from the European institutions, and the use of standards to support the global competitiveness of European industry, and the protection and welfare of citizens.
ANEC Secretary-General, Stephen Russell, spoke on the value of European standards not only to trade, but also to aiding consumer confidence and protection.
Stephen Russell at the debate
"We need a European legal framework for the quality, safety & liability of services", said ANEC President, Arnold Pindar, at the EPC Policy Dialogue, ‘The Services package: is the EU on the right track?’ which took place in Brussels on 1 March.
The dialogue focused on the development of the Single Market for Services and whether the latest EC proposal could meet ambitions.
Mr Pindar shared ANEC views on the single market for services. Referring to the findings of our research projects on cross border (online) services, he explained that ANEC aims for service standards to address principles related to choice, the provision of information, accessibility, communication, complaints and consumer redress.
Mr Pindar stressed that, without an EU legal framework addressing the quality, safety & liability of services, European standards will not provide a level-playing field as national regulations will continue to take precedence, leading to legal uncertainty, and consumer and business detriment.
The GS1 Global Forum 2017 took place in Brussels from 20-24 February.
On 22 February as part of the GS1 European Regional Forum, Chiara Giovannini, ANEC Senior Manager, Policy & Innovation, presented the consumer perspective on the role of standards in product safety in the digital economy.
Further to the research project and campaign (#toyfail) led by the Norwegian Consumer Council, the internet-connected doll, ‘My Friend Cayla’ has been banned in Germany. The Norwegian research showed such toys can pose particular risk to the privacy and safety of children. ANEC, BEUC and their members, including the Norwegian Consumer Council, are now in discussions with the EC to ensure the framework of legislation and standards is able to meet the challenges posed by innovative toys.
Protest in support of the Accessibility Act
In January, ANEC, the European Disability Forum (EDF) and AGE Platform Europe sent an open letter to MEPs to express concerns with the recently published EP draft report on the proposal for a European Accessibility Act.
On 6 March, EDF organised a demonstration themed ‘Breaking down the barriers’ in front of the European Parliament in an effort to ensure regulators understand the importance of the proposed law, not only for persons with disabilities, but everyone. The aim of the protest was to call on the IMCO Committee to adopt a more ambitious position on the proposal and so make it meaningful to millions of people in Europe.
More can be found at this link. ANEC issued a press release in support of the protest. You may also be interested in our leaflet, ‘The consumer views on the proposal for a European Accessibility Act’.
EC workshop on accessibility of products & services
On 2-3 February, the EC hosted a workshop on accessibility of products and services. Its objective was to present accessibility and business case for providing accessible products and services. It also provided an opportunity to discuss accessibility legislation and the present proposal for a European Accessibility Act.
On the second day, ANEC expert, Monika Klenovec, spoke about accessibility regulations and standards in the built environment.
Web Accessibility Directive Expert Group
The Directive on the accessibility of the websites and mobile applications of public sector bodies (‘Web Accessibility Directive’) was adopted at the end of 2016. It confers several implementing powers on the EC, regarding aspects such as the monitoring methodology, accessibility statement and the technical specifications for accessibility requirements for mobile apps (and websites).
To advise the Commission in the execution of its implementing powers, a Committee and Expert Group (‘WADEX’) have been set up, comprised of Member States. In addition, a sub-group of stakeholders has also been created. Bart Simons will represent ANEC, the European Disability Forum (EDF), European Blind Union (EBU) and AGE Platform Europe in the stakeholder sub-group.
First ANEC Opinions in CEN-CENELEC
As reported in our previous e-Newsletter, the right of ANEC, ECOS & ETUC - the three Societal Stakeholder Organisations (SSOs) recognised under Annex III of Regulation (EU) 1025/2012 - to submit an “Opinion” on draft standards submitted to Enquiry or Formal Vote in CEN-CENELEC was implemented on 1 January 2017.
As of 2 March, ANEC had submitted 16 Opinions, all apart from three being “Favourable” and in support of the draft standard.
New standards for children’s furniture
At the start of 2017, CEN adopted two new standards for children’s furniture.
EN 716-1 ‘Furniture - Children's cots and folding cots for domestic use - Part 1: Safety requirements’ specifies requirements for children's cots for domestic use with an internal length between 900mm and 1400mm. The standard applies to a cot that is fully assembled and ready for use, and does not apply to carry cots, cribs or cradles for which other standards exist. The new EN 716-1 supersedes EN 716-1:2008+A1:2013.
A warning not to add an additional second mattress has been introduced in the standard: parents sometimes put an extra mattress on top of the (very thin) folding cot mattress, which can create a risk as the sides of folding cots are flexible and the child can become stuck between the mattress and the cot.
EN 16890 ‘Children's furniture - Mattresses for cots and cribs – Safety requirements and test methods’ specifies requirements and test methods for mattresses, including bases and toppers, used in cots, travel cots, cribs & suspended baby beds, for domestic and non-domestic use.
ANEC participated in the development of the standards and gave a “Favourable Opinion” on each.
ANEC welcomes improved lawnmower standards
ANEC welcomes the adoption by CEN of two amendments aimed at improving the safety of lawnmowers. The amendments - EN ISO 5395-2/A2 and EN ISO 5395-3/A2 – focus on improving the guarding of the cutters on the two types of internal combustion-engine powered lawnmowers, pedestrian-controlled and ride-on. The requirements for each type are similar. These amendments provide clarity as to what is intended and do not change the objective of the original standards. They make careless operation more difficult and give manufacturers freedom to come forward with still safer designs.
Odile Finkelstein, a long-time expert in the ANEC Child Safety and Traffic & Mobility WGs, has decided to stop her participation in ANEC. Her role included representing ANEC in CEN/TC 402 ‘Domestic pools and spas’ and its four WGs. We must thank Odile for her commitment and enthusiasm in defending the consumer interest in standardisation over many years, and send her our best wishes for the future.
News from ANEC Members
DIN Consumer Council study on head injuries in children
The study “Head injuries in children by accidents in domestic environments caused by certain products” was initiated in spring 2016 by the DIN Consumer Council and is now available. The study empirically investigated cases of head injuries in children up to the age of 14 years in Germany and Austria. The focus was on head injuries that were caused by accidents in a domestic environment and had been treated in hospital. The aim was to identify those products that caused the accidents and to show their risks in a household with children.
The data originated from the European Injury Data Base (IDB) for cases of injury in Germany and Austria documented between 2006 and 2015. The sample comprised about 4.000 cases.
For nine conspicuous products, proposals are made to amend standards for changing units, bunk beds, children’s high chairs, children’s cots, prams, carrycots, infant carriers, trampolines and safety barriers.
NCF Consumer Congress on Brexit
On 6 April 2017, the National Consumer Federation will host a Consumer Congress entitled, ‘The best of Brexit for consumers’. The venue will be Broadway House, Tothill Street (a short walk from Parliament Square and next to St James’s Park underground station).
A programme of high-level speakers will consider the opportunities and threats posed by Brexit to consumers, and how the consumer voice should be strengthened and amplified. Registration is free but places limited to 120 participants.
ANEC is supported by the European Commission and EFTA.