SERVICE STANDARDS and SUPERVISION
Services are one of the main drivers of the European economy and account for around 70 percent of GDP. Standards can ensure the quality of services, but only if they exist and are used. Today, ANEC publishes a report on the use of service standards by authorities as a tool in market surveillance.
Commissioned by ANEC, the Swedish Service Research Centre, Karlstad University, looked at how the development of service standards could be encouraged and how authorities approach the surveillance of services through standards.
Its report concludes with four recommendations:
1. Both authorities and standardisation bodies need to take account of the inherent special characteristics of services compared with products;
2. Further to this first recommendation, there are several elements that should be particularly considered when developing service standards and/or conducting the supervision of services;
3. Although standardisation bodies expect the voluntary participation of interested parties, more emphasis is needed in encouraging market surveillance authorities to participate in standardisation committees;
4. To strengthen the importance of service standards, the General Product Safety Directive (Directive 2001/95/EC) should be reviewed to consider including services under its umbrella.
Ecodesign measures have been in the spotlight this week, with alleged EU plans to scrap the tool. But our new study confirms how crucial it is to safeguard Ecodesign.
Indeed, consumers save at least €330 annually thanks to Ecodesign, and by doing nothing! This is because EU laws have enabled manufacturers to produce less energy-hungry products. And if consumers choose the top class of the Energy Label, their savings can jump to over €450 per year.
These results come from a study commissioned by ANEC and its sister organisation, BEUC. It evaluates the financial savings resulting from Ecodesign and Energy Labelling for the typical European household.
In addition to economic benefits, Ecodesign delivers qualitative benefits to consumers such as quieter vacuum cleaners.
The study also highlights that savings for consumers could be considerably higher if Ecodesign requirements were more ambitious and timely in their delivery.
The typical family, taken as a case study, comprises a couple, their child and a dog. They live in a 3-bedroom house and have about 20 appliances and 45 light bulbs. The study methodology is based on the calculation of the total cost of ownership of all their appliances.
ANEC technical study outlines possible improvements in standards development
Safety requirements, which are incorporated into the standardisation requests directed to CEN and CENELEC, are a key element in the development of new standards under the GPSD. They need to follow a hazard-based approach, an approach that comprehensively and systematically identifies, assesses and addresses hazards and risks.
The levels of safety set out in safety requirements should be relevant to the significance of the hazards and risks, especially when the risk of harm is high. These levels of safety should be defined by the European Commission’s GPSD committee, not left to technical committees to decide, their role being to find ways of addressing safety requirements, not deciding on their significance.
These are two of the important conclusions from the ANEC Technical Study 'The development of safety requirements and hazard-based standards for child use and care articles', undertaken by Anne Smith and Mike Hayes from the UK’s Child Accident Prevention Trust.
To support the development of safety requirements, the study presents a hazard and risk matrix, drawing heavily on the table in CEN/TR 13387:2015 Child use and care articles - General safety guidelines - Part 1: Safety philosophy and safety assessment.
The study also recommends that:
- CEN/TR 13387-1:2015 should be amended in line with recommendations presented in the report to assist in the drafting of informative rationales in standards.
after publication, a standard should be audited by the expert panel that drafted the safety requirements to determine whether or not it fulfils the requirements, both in
- terms of completeness and the levels of safety provided. This determination should be undertaken systematically using proposals presented in the report. This process can be made easier by drafting safety requirements and standards in a hazard-based format.
- the expert panels responsible for drafting safety requirements should have broad representation from key stakeholders to ensure that members have an understanding of all the issues that need to be included.
While the report focusses primarily on standards developed under the GPSD and for products with which children might interact, using child use and care articles as an example, the principles might also be relevant for those for adults and to those covered by other Directives.
Barriers to clicking cross-border
Only 10% of EU consumers regularly shop from internet retailers in other EU countries, compared with 63% from websites in their home countries, according to a new ANEC survey of more than 4.000 consumers in 22 EU countries. The study reveals that, despite European Commission policies to encourage e-commerce cross-border, consumers still face notable barriers to reaping the benefits of a digital single market.
The study ‘European cross-border online shopping - Learning from consumer experiences’ looks at the online shopping habits of EU consumers and identifies key problems met by those who buy from internet retailers in other EU countries.
Two-thirds of online shoppers surveyed have bought cross-border, with 15% finding a problem. Of these, 27% reported late deliveries and 22% said their orders never arrived. Respondents also reported problems when trying to place orders, such as unfair price differences, unclear or misleading information, and retailers refusing to sell or deliver to the address of the shopper.
An overview of the main findings can be found in the ANEC leaflet: Key Facts on Cross-border online shopping within the EU.
The benefits of consumer participation in standardisation to all stakeholders
Much work has been done on macro-economic and micro-economic benefits of standardisation, but little on the societal benefits or the benefits to consumers in particular. The purpose of this study was to demonstrate the societal benefits of standardisation at the national and European levels, with a particular focus on the benefits of consumer participation. The report "The benefits of consumer participation in standardisation to all stakeholders” synthesises the findings from three case studies examining ANEC’s contribution to different European standards. It focuses on analysing the different modalities of consumer contribution to standardisation as well as the impacts of this contribution, in particular for the industry. Since the study also aims to pave the way for further research in the area, the report also includes recommendations for future studies.
European cross-border travel and tourism - Learning from consumer experiences and complaints
Travelling within Europe is not always easy, according to ANEC research study on complaints related to European cross-border travel and tourism carried out. In our survey of almost 6000 consumers, more than a quarter reported having problems when using cross-border tourism services within Europe. Car rental was seen as the most problematic area with almost one-quarter of users reporting a negative experience. People travelling by plane and train, and going on package holidays, also experienced a high level of problems, despite EU regulation in these areas.
Read more on the ANEC study on complaints related to European cross-border travel and tourism published in January 2014 and the ANEC leaflet: Key Facts on European cross-border complaints.
ANEC shared the findings with the Commission officials and relevant standardisation committees in CEN Strategic Advisory Group on Services (SAGS) and at ISO level in ISO TC 228 ‘Tourism and related services’. ISO TC 228 Newsletter featured an interview with ANEC on the subject.
ANEC also presented the study results at the European Tourism Day (ETD) 2014 that served as an occasion for the Commission to collect tourism stakeholders’ views for future European activities on European tourism promotion, challenges related to digital tourism, streamlining the regulatory and administrative framework and the feasibility of a quality initiative.
Following the results of this investigation, the ANEC Services WG developed the ANEC position paper: How can we make travel in the EU better for consumers?.
Models of special accommodation for older people across Europe
The study was commissioned by ANEC in order to inform future work on standardisation in relation to accommodation and care for older people. The aim of the research project was to compile an Information Record containing information on models of specialist accommodation and care for older people, and related standards, in use across the countries of the European Union, the acceding and candidate countries, and the EFTA countries: Norway, Switzerland, Iceland and Liechtenstein (Total 38 countries).
A combination of primary (online questionnaire survey) and secondary research (literature review) techniques were used to gather information from as wide a range of sources as possible. The Information Record shows a considerable variation between countries in the amount of information recorded. The results of the study were sent to CEN SAGS during the discussion on future strategy on health care services standardisation with a view to consider ANEC findings in any potential standard related to social care.
More detailed information can be found in the report Models of special accommodation for older people across Europe.
Requirements on Lighting (Light Intensity) and Reflectors of Bicycles
Lights and reflectors enhancing the visibility of bicycles are not harmonized in Member States. Thus, ANEC commissioned the European Cyclists’ Federation (ECF) to carry out a study, which has shown that there is sparse information or research on cycling accidents, safety and bicycle lighting. The report did find that many cyclists do not have functioning lights during times of darkness. Although there are often absolutely more accidents/casualties during the day, it is suspected that there will be relatively more accidents/casualties at night, however exposure figures are necessary in order to say conclusively. One known study that takes into account exposure figures came from the Netherlands which did conclude that night cycling was relatively more dangerous at night. However this was based on a country with a very high cycling modal share (25-35%) and could not be said to be representative of Europe. Confounding figures such as alcohol could also play a large part in night time accidents. Road safety and use of bicycle lighting in the EU are inconclusively linked.
Regarding traffic regulations and bicycle lighting there seem to be as many regulations as there are countries.
ANEC presented the study report at ISO level in view of the development of ISO 6742-1 'Cycles — Lighting and retro-reflective devices —Part 1: Lighting and light signalling devices' to ask for “to be seen lights” to be added to the standard to improve visibility and safety of the cyclist.
More detailed information can be found in the report 'Requirements on Lighting (Light Intensity) and Reflectors of Bicycles'.
Requirements for finger entrapment in European safety standards
Currently static finger entrapment is addressed in most relevant European standards for children’s nursery equipment and child use & care articles, along with moving (dynamic) finger entrapment. However, there has been often considerable discussion about the dimensions and shape of the holes (or gaps) that pose risk. Furthermore, there has not been much input into dynamic finger entrapment. Hence, further research was required to fully prepare requirements for safety standards. The purpose of the ANEC study was to confirm requirements for static finger entrapment; to determine at what age/ability children start to put their fingers into gaps and openings, and to provide data to develop further requirements & test methods for dynamic finger entrapment. As the results showed children as young as 6 months use their fingers to explore, it can be concluded that children from 6 months should be protected by the requirements for finger entrapment.
ANEC presented the results of its research study into child finger entrapment to several CEN technical committees as well as a CENELEC committee.