We are a little reluctant to focus on specific success stories in case it gives the impression that our success is limited to a few big wins. Not so. ANEC helps to shape standards and legislation each and every day. But if we do have to point to some high-profile successes:


Environmental performance evaluation

Money treeFollowing ANEC’s guidance in 2008 on how to address the lack of comparable key performance indicators in ISO 14031 on environmental performance evaluation, the standard was revised in the main international committee on environmental standardisation, ISO TC 207 ‘Environmental management’. In its subsequent work in ISO TC 207 SC4 ‘Environmental performance evaluation’, ANEC outlined a means to establish such indicators and influenced the revision of ISO 14031 including a clause (4.2.2.6) on "Selecting sector-specific operational performance indicators for comparison". ANEC promotes the use of this standard to companies when reporting on their sustainability performance.

 


Biocompatibility of technical aids for disabled persons

In 2008, ANEC asked for an inclusion of environmental and human health related aspects in the revision of EN 12182 ‘Technical aids for disabled persons – General requirements and test methods’ in CEN TC 293 WG 10 ‘Environment’.

ANEC requested CEN TC 293 WG 10 to create a special Task Group to deal with the environmental/chemical aspects of the revision. The standard, published in 2012, now includes an assessment of biocompatibility: “The assistive products shall be designed and manufactured in such a way as to reduce to a minimum the risks posed by substances leaking from the assistive product. Special attention shall be given to substances which are carcinogenic, mutagenic or toxic to reproduction and other substances of very high concern (SVHCs).” The revised standard is close to the level of an Ecolabel in reduction of risk from the leach of toxic chemical substances.


EMAS Reference Document, Best environmental management practices (BEMPs) in the construction sector

ConstructionThe EMAS Reference Document, 'Best environmental management practices' (BEMPs) in the construction sector’ provides an overview of the common specific indicators for the construction sector and derived benchmarks. ANEC welcomed the reference document, which takes into account the findings of the ANEC study on environmental & health-related criteria for buildings. The EMAS reference document was developed by the Institute for IPTS of the European Commission’s Joint Research Centre in 2012.


Postal services quality

With the liberalisation of the postal market, privatisation of postal services and more competition in domestic markets, a universal postal service was at risk for some customers. European standards related to postal services underpin Directive 2008/06/EC on Postal Services; which amended the initial Directive 97/67/EC. ANEC participates in CEN TC 331 ‘Postal services’ WG 1 on ‘Quality of Services’ and in WG 5 ‘Aperture of private letter boxes and letter plates’. ANEC wants to ensure all consumers receive a universal postal service of good quality. Further to ensuring the inclusion of consumer-relevant aspects throughout the work of CEN TC 331, we contributed significantly to revision of EN 13850, ‘Measurement of the transit time of end-to-end services for single piece priority mail and first class mail’. This standard provides a (mandatory) pan-EU measurement method to track the transit time of priority letters. We are also active in the "Keep me posted" campaign which aims to ensure consumers are not limited to online delivery of public service documents.


A standard to address cross-border consumer concerns for Aesthetic Surgery services treatments

Aesthetic surgeryPromoting consistently high standards for aesthetic surgery service providers across Europe is increasingly important, as more and more consumers travel abroad for aesthetic treatment. Potential risks and costs are not always recognisable for patients neither are post-treatment financial and health consequences. The European standard, EN 16372:2014 ‘Aesthetic surgery services’, could help offer assurances to consumers in terms of levels of safety, quality and transparency of service, especially in countries where there are no legal requirements in this area. Moreover, a European standard (mandatorily) implemented as a national standard in CEN member countries provides a national reference document for redress if things do go wrong.

During its development, ANEC sought inclusion of consumer relevant requirements in EN 16372 which considers surgical and non-surgical procedures before, during and after intervention. We pressed for clear, individualised information provision, as well as for a psychological assessment of patients and a sufficient cooling-off period. We also ensured the text requires that risks, costs and further health and financial consequences are made clear to the patient before treatment.


New Radio Equipment Directive and common mobile charger

ANEC welcomes the publication of the revised Radio & Telecommunications Terminal Equipment Directive, now called Radio Equipment Directive (2014/53/EU), as it allows the EC to require manufacturers to make battery chargers for mobile phones compatible.

For many years now, ANEC has asked the manufacturers of mobile phones to provide a common external power supply (CEPS). Although the EC had signed voluntary agreements with the industry to this end, they did not prove effective from the consumer perspective. We also welcome that the Directive allows interoperability to be sought as an additional essential requirement for certain categories of equipment. Moreover, we appreciate the Directive can require the central registration of products for which compliance is demonstrated to be low.

As consumers can be properly protected only if their (foreseeable) behaviours are taken into account in the design of products, we proposed the Directive reflect the concept of “use in accordance to the intended purpose or under the conditions which can be reasonably foreseen”. We are delighted this provision is reflected in the conformity assessment procedures of the Directive. We also pleased that the review of the operation of the Directive by the EC will consider the level of consumer protection offered, and that the requirements of the Directive can be applied to sales over the internet.


Safety of Audio/video and ICT equipment standards

EN 62368 1:2013/FprAA:2014 'Audio/video, information and communication technology equipment - Part 1: Safety requirements (common modifications)' was adopted by CENELEC after a second Formal Vote. ANEC supported the adoption of the standard as it no longer contains a reference to “fire caused by a candle flame is reduced for TV sets”. ANEC worked to avoid the external ignition clause (also known as the candle flame ignition clause) placing consumer safety at risk. The external ignition clause can allow manufacturers to use potentially toxic flame retardants in TVs. ANEC did not support the sentence as we found it ambiguous.


Accessibility requirements for public ICT procurement

The adoption of EN 301 549 'Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in  Europe' as well as TR 101 550 'Documents relevant to EN 301 549 Accessibility requirements suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe’, TR 101 551 ‘Guidelines on the use of accessibility award criteria suitable for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe’ and TR 101 552 ‘Guidance for the application of conformity assessment to accessibility requirements for public procurement of ICT products and services in Europe’ is an important achievement in increasing accessibility for consumers.

The standards were drafted under Standardisation Mandate M/376 'Accessibility requirements for public procurement of ICT products and services' to which ANEC actively contributed since the beginning. The set of functional European accessibility requirements will harmonise e-accessibility in the Internal Market, benefitting consumers with disabilities and older consumers.


Child Restraint Systems

i size logoRearward-facing Child Restraint Systems (CRS) can reduce the risk of serious injury by 90%. ANEC has long argued that rearward-facing travel is the best way to transport children. As a result, the new “I-size Regulation” on child-restraint systems adopted by UNECE (United Nations Economic Commission for Europe) World Forum for the Harmonization of Vehicle Regulations (WP 29) in 2012 requires – apart from other improvements - the mandatory rearward-facing transport of children until the age of 15 months.


Personal Music Players (PMPs)

mp3Young consumers frequently listen to music by using Personal Music Players and radio communication devices including such a facility. It is essential to ensure that these devices do not cause quantifiable health risks, in particular unforeseen hearing loss or hearing impairment. In 2008, we started a campaign (“Pump down the volume”) aimed at introducing safe sound pressure limits in the standards on Personal Music Players as no volume limit was set in the relevant standards.

ANEC’s position was confirmed by scientists who conclude that 5-10% of personal music players listeners risk permanent hearing loss within 5 years due to the excessive use of personal music player. In June 2009, the European Commission, upon ANEC’s pressure, issued a standardisation mandate to develop and revise standards for the safety of personal music players (PMPs).

In 2011, we welcomed very much the approval of new standards for Personal Music Players as it took on board our requests (EN 60065:2002/A12:2011 "Audio, video and similar electronic apparatus - Safety requirements" and EN 60950-1:2006/A12:2011 "Information technology equipment - Safety -- Part 1: General requirements"). The average sound pressure limit is 85 dBA. This is a level that is considered to be safe under all conditions of use. Nevertheless, there is the possibility for consumers to choose to override the limit so that the level can be increased up to a maximum average of 100 dBA. In this case, users are informed by warnings, repeated after every 20 hours of listening time, about the risks of listening music at such a high volume. Lower limits are prescribed for PMPs for children. The 85 dBA and 100 dBA limits should be applicable as of next year.


Kellogg's Snack Stacks

ANEC (with its sister organisation, BEUC) lobbied the Kellogg Company to withdraw its Lego Snack Stacks food product from the trial market of the United States. We were concerned about the sweets’ resemblance in colour and size to the famous Lego toy brick. We were also uneasy at the packaging of the sweets which was far closer in appearance to a Lego product than another Kellogg food product. Although the sweets were not on sale in Europe, we were fearful at both the possible introduction of the product into the European market and the potential purchase of the sweets by a family holidaying in the United States. We very much welcomed the response of the Kellogg Company to withdraw Lego Snack Stacks at the end of December 2008.


Domestic Electrical Appliances

The specifications for the range of domestic electrical appliances (‘white goods’) are set through the EN 60335-2 series of European Standards. The first generation of these standards featured a ‘limitation clause’ or ‘exclusion clause’ which presumed that young, elderly or disabled people would use appliances in conformity with these standards only under supervision. ANEC argued successfully that the clause was unfairly discriminatory, leading to the creation of a dedicated working group (CENELEC TC 61/WG 4) to revise the standards. Due to the complexity of the European legislation governing domestic electrical appliances and the need to ensure both safety and accessibility, the revision process has proved complex. ANEC continues to provide financial support in order to determine the technical solutions needed to facilitate the revisions. Even so, the programme of revision is not expected to be complete until 2012.


Juice extractors

juice extractorANEC became aware of a catalogue of incidents where people were injured when the rotating disc of their juice extractors broke free of the extractor. ANEC commissioned a chemical test which revealed that a combination of citric acid and detergents could damage the disc and weaken its retaining mechanism. As a result of the ANEC findings, the European Standard covering the construction of juice extractors was revised to improve the safety of the product.


Cords on children's clothes

PicturegirlwithcordCords and drawstrings on children’s clothing present a choking and strangulation hazard, particularly when used in the head and neck areas of garments. An ANEC proposal led to the development of the European Standard EN 14682:2007 ‘Safety of children’s clothing – Cords and drawstrings on children’s clothing – Specifications’. The standard bans the use of cords and drawstrings in the head and neck area of clothes intended for children below the age of seven years.


Lighters

Lighter Car3Around 1200 fires in the European Union each year – and 20 fatalities – have been attributed to children under five years of age playing with cigarette lighters. Many of these accidents could have been avoided if the lighters had been fitted with childproof devices. ANEC was instrumental in achieving a decision of the European Commission and the Member States to ban most types of lighter from sale in the European Union from 11 March 2008 unless the lighter complies with the European Standard EN 13869:2002 ‘Lighters – Child resistance for lighters – Safety requirements and test methods’. In December 2008, ANEC was successful in working with partner organisations to encourage the German Länder to adopt the Commission Decision in full: a failure to do so would have led Germany to have become a dumping ground for non child-resistant lighters after 11 March 2009.


Energy label: "A" was, is, and will always be best!

Energy label

More and more, people are realising the undeniable impact our everyday lives have on the planet. Every product we buy or service we contract has a cost on the environment, and consumers are now considering in their purchasing decision not only the price and the quality but also the environmental aspects of a product or service. But how can we help consumers in their decision if it is impossible for them to understand which product is most energy efficient?

At its onset, the EU energy label was praised by ANEC and all consumer organisations, for its undoubted success in encouraging consumers to make the most sustainable choice thanks to the message of ‘Buy A’ given by the A-G scale.

After the revision of the related directive in 2010, the well understood energy label was turned into a confusing scheme. It allowed different scales to be used to show the energy efficiency of a product depending on their category; this meant that products from a specific group, for example vacuum cleaners, could be labelled from "A to G", while products from another category like refrigerators, could be labelled A or A+, A++ and even A+++ - without any consistency among product groups. It was very difficult for consumers to understand and identify which product in any one group was the most efficient. How can the Energy label look different from one product to another?

ANEC together with its sister organisation BEUC has campaigned for a reorientation of the Energy Label so that it can truly help consumers make the most sustainable decisions in their purchases, and encourage manufacturers to innovate in the making of ever more energy-efficient products. In 2015, the European Commission put forward a good initial proposal which included some of ANEC demands; ANEC had insisted on the need of bringing all existing product labels into the closed A-G scale, and had stressed the motivational power of a simple energy label where “A is best”.

Following 2 years of negotiations, which ANEC followed closely, the three EU institutions have struck a deal in 2017 on the EU Energy label. The well-known A-G scale will return to the shops!

Although it is somewhat disappointing that for some products consumers will still have to wait years before seeing the new label, an online database will be created to inform consumers which product models will need to feature the Energy Label. ANEC thinks this will increase transparency for consumers and help them choose the products that serve their needs.