ANEC, BEUC & ICRT are joining forces in the recruitment of a Fundraising Officer, a full-time post with an initial contract of three years. The post will be based in London and Brussels. For further details, please see the Vacancy Notice on the ANEC website. The deadline for applications is 20 January 2017.
Keep our children and their secrets safe!
Source: Google Play
Internet-connected toys have found their way into Father Christmas’s sack during the past couple of years. With another Christmas on the horizon, the Norwegian Consumer Council (NCC) decided to examine the terms and conditions and technical features of the connected toys, My friend Cayla and i-Que. The results of their research project (#toyfail) show what seem to be breaches of the Unfair Contract Terms Directive, the Data Protection Directive and possibly the Toy Safety Directive.
The NCC found spoken data, collected during the use of the toys, may be shared with unnamed third-parties and used for targeted advertising. More worryingly, our colleagues found it possible to use a mobile phone to speak to a child through the toys, using a Bluetooth connection, with the link maintained up to 20 metres away.
As part of the #toyfail campaign, joined by BEUC and other BEUC members alongside the NCC, ANEC issued a press release and wrote a common letter with BEUC to the European Commission (EC) to express concern. We trust a meeting with the Commission will follow in the New Year.
Since the campaign was launched on 6 December, large chains in the Netherlands and Belgium have stopped selling the toys, while stores in Denmark, Norway and Sweden have offered refunds to consumers. It also seems that Amazon has stopped sales through its European online outlets.
EESC Opinion: AUWP 2017
In December , the European Economic & Social Committee (EESC) adopted an opinion on the Annual Union Work Programme for European Standardisation 2017. The AUWP was published in June as a Communication from the EC.
The opinion was drafted by the Polish member of the ANEC General Assembly, Elżbieta Szadzińska, and approved by the EESC plenary with 206 votes, no objections and 3 abstentions. It accords with ANEC’s views on inclusiveness of the European Standardisation System (ESS), and the need to increase consumer participation in standardisation, as well as to progress standardisation work on services, accessibility and digital issues.
DG Justice & Consumers hosted 2016 edition of International Product Safety Week (IPSW) in Brussels from 14 to 18 November.
On 15 November, Tania Vandenberghe, ANEC Senior Programme Manager, presented the consumer view on safety-by-design during the ICPHSO International Symposium. During a conference on the safety of products sold online the next day, Chiara Giovannini, ANEC Senior Manager, moderated a panel on practices to survey the safety of products sold online. It highlighted some good practices in authorities and explored cooperation between stakeholders and authorities. Chiara also spoke during a panel on product safety enforcement, lessons learned and ways forward.
Tania Vandenberghe at IPSW 2016 Chiara Giovannini at IPSW 2016
Image: Twitter Image: EC
International Day of Persons with Disabilities
On 3 December, the International Day of Persons with Disabilities is observed. This year, the focus was on the seventeen UN Sustainable Development Goals and how they can create a more inclusive and equitable world for persons with disabilities.
It is a basic consumer right to have access to products and services. ANEC believes that standards are a suitable tool to overcome this discrimination if Design for All (DfA) principles are applied. To this end, we are leading standards work on access to the built environment to make every city in Europe accessible.
We have also participated in work on the first European Standard for accessible ICT products & services under Mandate M/376. EN 301 549 “Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in the Europe” will be used to implement the Directive on the Accessibility of Public Sector Bodies’ websites and apps, and ANEC will also contribute to the update of relevant standards to include apps. The Web Accessibility Directive was published in the Official Journal of the EU in December 2016, with the requirement that all public sector mobile applications are accessible by June 2021. The deadlines for existing and new public sector websites are September 2020 and September 2019 respectively.
European Digital Competence Framework for Consumers
In December, the EC published a Digital Competences for Consumers Reference Framework. The Framework is a joint action of DG Justice & Consumers and the Joint Research Centre (JRC) and is part of the deliverables of the New Skills Agenda for Europe and the Digital Single Market (DSM). Both these initiatives of the Juncker Commission have underlined the importance of improving citizens’ digital skills.
The Framework ("DigCompConsumers") aims to set a common understanding of the competences consumers need to engage actively, safely and assertively in digital marketplaces. It is intended for use by education and policy professionals, for developing digital education, consumer education and consumer policy initiatives. The Framework outlines fourteen competences, grouped along the purchasing process. Each of the competences is described and illustrated with concrete examples in terms of knowledge, skills and attitudes.
EC “Winter Package”
On 30 November, the EC published it “Winter Package”, proposing ‘new rules for consumer-centred clean energy transition’.
The measures relevant for consumers focus on:
- setting the framework for improving energy efficiency in general;
- improving energy efficiency in buildings;
- improving the energy performance of products (Ecodesign) and providing information to consumers (energy labelling);
- finance for energy efficiency, with the smart finance for smart buildings proposal.
ANEC finds the measures relating to energy efficiency in buildings of particular interest. Based on earlier consultations, the EC has proposed a review of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) and relevant articles of the Energy Efficiency Directive (EED): Proposal for a revised energy performance of buildings Directive [COM(2016)765]; Proposal for a revised energy efficiency Directive [COM(2016)761]
ANEC contributed to the public consultation on Evaluation of the Energy Performance of Buildings Directive (EPBD) last year and released the position paper, 'Laying the foundations for sustainable buildings'. We called for development of a European strategy for sustainable construction to achieve reliable sustainable performance assessment of buildings, and provision of meaningful measurement indicators and information. We welcome the intention to encourage the energetic retrofitting of buildings. Quality and comparability of Energy Performance certificates (EPCs) remain to be improved in light of the enhancement foreseen in the proposal, and the intention to set up EPC databases.
Ecodesign Work Plan 2016-2019 released
On 30 November, a new work plan for Ecodesign was published as part of the EC “Winter Package”. The work plan gives a sound mandate to continue with Ecodesign measures which will serve consumers' pockets and the environment. Guidelines on voluntary agreements were also published that take almost all our recommendations into account. In addition, a draft Regulation on tolerances was published, reflecting the positions of ANEC and BEUC, which will stop some industry practitioners from exploiting test tolerances.
For more information, we invite you to visit the EC webpage under Ecodesign.
New standards on material efficiency aspects
CEN-CENELEC Joint Working Group 10 has started its work on “Energy-related products –Material Efficiency Aspects for Ecodesign”. A kick-off meeting was held in September and its Project Teams met at the end of November to plan the work.
About twenty deliverables are to be developed by JWG 10 by March 2019. The most challenging exercise may be to produce horizontal standards that are applicable to all product groups as the EC mandate (M/543) requires. ANEC is a member of Project Team (PT) 2 on durability; PT 3 on upgradability, ability to repair, facilitate re-use, use of re-used components, and PT 7 on documentation.
NGOs unhappy with governance of nanotechnologies
On 7 December, the EC signed an agreement with the European Chemicals Agency (ECHA) to set up an EU Observatory for Nanomaterials. On the same day, ANEC attended a conference organised by Ciel, ECOS and Oeko-Institut, “Governance of Emerging Technologies: Nanotechnologies in the spotlight – State of emergence or state of emergency?”
After debating with DG Environment, ECHA and OECD officials on the existing gaps in the EU governance of nanomaterials, several Civil Society Organisations agreed to step back from the EU observatory. The measure cannot respond to the call made over a decade by NGOs, consumer groups and Member States among others for information to made publicly available about the nature, quantity and uses of nanomaterials, and the products containing them. The observatory will instead only compile existing information. The demands of civil society are detailed in the Joint NGO Position Paper ‘Reset Governance: Nanomaterials as a case study on negligence NGO demands for adequate EU governance of nanomaterials’ published the same week.
Serbia admitted to CEN-CENELEC as a full member
In November, the General Assemblies of CEN and CENELEC agreed to admit Serbia as the 34th full member of both European Standardisation Organisations with membership starting on 1 January 2017. ISS (the Institute of Standardization for Serbia) will be the Serbian representative.
The ISS membership of CEN and CENELEC comes in direct support of the negotiations for Serbia’s accession to the EU. The Republic of Serbia applied for EU membership in 2009 and was granted candidate country status for EU membership in March 2012.
ANEC will seek the appointment of a Serbian member to the ANEC General Assembly in the New Year.
'Better Europe - Have your say'
The BRWN brings together European organisations from the spectrum of societal and social interests. Its aim is to follow developments on Better Regulation, and the initiatives and actions from the EC, European Parliament and Member States in this area.
Call for expert to represent ANEC in CENELEC TC 106X
We are looking for a volunteer to represent consumers in standardisation on Electro-magnetic Fields (EMF) in the Human Environment (CENELEC TC 106X).
TC 106X deals with various aspects of the exposure of people to electromagnetic fields, and develops standards listed under the Radio Equipment and Low Voltage Directives. ANEC has been participating in this Technical Committee for many years now, to ensure that the standards developed take into account consumer interest. The work is largely carried out by correspondence, with no more than two physical meetings per year.
For information on how to apply, please see the vacancy note on our website.
Season's Greetings from the ANEC Secretariat
As this is the last Newsletter of 2016, all in the ANEC Secretariat wish you a happy Christmas and a healthy, prosperous and safe New Year!