Commissie geeft nieuwe stimulans aan interne markt
Nieuwsbericht | 14-02-2007
Brussels, 14th February 2007
European Commission gives new boost to trade of goods within the EU
The European Commission has today proposed a broad package of measures to assure a smoother functioning of the internal market for goods. This will make it easier for companies, particularly for small and medium-sized enterprises, to market products in the European Union while assuring a high level of safety and quality. For industrial goods which are already subject of EU-legislation it is suggested to establish a system of market surveillance which is built upon the existing system for consumer products. Furthermore cooperation between national accreditation bodies should be re-enforced and new rules to enhance confidence and trust in the CE mark are proposed. A common legal framework, build on simple common definitions and procedures for the marketing of industrial products, will serve as a toolbox for future sectoral legislation. These measures will have an impact on 22 industrial sectors, representing a market volume of around 1500 billion euros a year. Improvements are proposed for the trade with goods which do not fall under EU-legislation which accounts for around a quarter of EU intra manufacturing trade. At present many companies are discouraged from venturing outside their domestic market because they have to prove that their products fulfil the requirements of technical rules in other Member States. It is now suggested that public authorities will have to justify to companies, why a product which was lawfully marketed in another Member State, cannot be sold on their national market. In addition, it is proposed to create local product points which will provide information to businesses about additional requirements outside their home market.
Commission Vice-President Günter Verheugen, responsible for Enterprise and Industry including the internal market for goods, said: "The internal market is our biggest asset in view of promoting growth and jobs in the EU. There is still much room to improve the free movement of goods. That's why I'm proposing to unburden industry by placing more responsibility on the authorities of Member States and encouraging dialogue and cooperation. We will do so in a way that consumers will be better protected as well. More freedom for business to trade within Europe needs to be balanced with more responsibility and risk management.''
The measures proposed are the following:
These measures will be a further step towards completing the internal market in the 21st century. The package will be submitted to the EP and the Council of Ministers for further discussion. More information
Package on Internal Market for goods:
1. New approach: Better Regulation to give fresh impetus to the internal market for goods
2. Market access for products - making it easier to sell in another Member State
3. Making it easier to buy a car in another Member State
Part I: New approach: Better Regulation to give fresh impetus to the internal market for goods
European product legislation was revolutionised by the “New Approach”; introduced in 1985, this New Approach has become a role model for Better Regulation. It ensures free movement of goods, on the simple condition that a manufacturer guarantees that products are safe. The Legislation sets out the levels of protection that must be achieved and does not prejudge the choice of technical solution required to achieve the levels. Today, the so called New Approach directives cover a large proportion of products marketed in the EU in more than 20 industrial sectors, including electro-technical products, machinery, radio/telecoms equipment, toys, medical devices, construction products and high speed rail systems. It is estimated that the trade in products covered by the major New Approach sectors is in excess of €1500 billion per year. Most products covered by this legislation have CE marking affixed to them, which is the visible symbol that indicates a product complies with all the applicable legislation and is safe.
1. Need to improve coherence and comparability of designation, operation and monitoring of Notified Bodies
New Approach directives often require that products are certified by third parties before being placed on the market. These third parties (so far 1800 in the EU) are laboratories, inspection and certification bodies which are known generally as conformity assessment bodies, or more formally as “Notified Bodies ”. Member States have the responsibility for choosing which of their conformity assessment bodies fulfil the necessary criteria to become notified; not all do. The minimum criteria include competence, impartiality, integrity etc.
Notified bodies are private companies and operate in a competitive marketplace. Whilst this can be good for the manufacturer, it can lead to unfair practices and less rigorous implementation of costly procedures, by those seeking to bend the rules. Also different notified bodies may take different approaches when carrying out their work. This represents, not only a risk of unsafe products on the market, but also distorts competition within the manufacturing industry.
Unfortunately, some Member States have more stringent criteria than others for designation of Notified Bodies, which results in an un-level playing field in Europe. Some Member States organise designation, assessment and monitoring of their notified bodies directly through their public administration, whilst others use the support of a national accreditation body. Accreditation is a formal system which provides an independent attestation of the competence, impartiality and integrity of conformity assessment bodies.
Accreditation bodies are organised at European level into the EA (European co-operation for Accreditation). EA ensures that National accreditation bodies all work to the same requirements, so that accreditation granted from one body is directly comparable to that granted from another. However, not all European accreditation bodies are members of EA and not all Notified Bodies undergo accreditation.
Therefore, the Commission proposes:
to continue the decentralised competence assessment and monitoring of Notified Bodies under the responsibility of each Member State but, to introduce a legal framework for accreditation and co-ordination at EU level using the existing organisation of EA as a foundation for this. This will provide EA with public recognition and provide it with the authority it currently lacks to provide accreditation services to all Notified Bodies. It will also ensure that all Member States use accreditation as a basis of notification.
2. Common legal framework to ensure an equivalent level of market surveillance throughout the EU.
Under the current situation, market surveillance legislation is not implemented consistently or in a co-ordinated fashion in the Community. As a consequence, large numbers of non-compliant (and potentially dangerous) products reach the market each year.
On one hand, the different national authorities in charge of market surveillance lack the necessary means to apply control and surveillance efficiently. They are constantly confronted with new challenges, for example e-commerce trading, new products on the market and increasing numbers of third country imports. On the other hand, products today circulate freely once inside the EU without the need for passing any internal checkpoints, but the powers of national authorities are limited to their own territory.
Therefore, Cross border co-operation is essential to effectively identify and pursue dangerous products as well as unlawful manufacturers or importers. Due to the current national nature of market surveillance, information is not always passed on and has to be reproduced in other Member States, thus reducing the efficiency of market surveillance at Community level. By exploiting these deficiencies, some unlawful manufactures or importers can repeatedly play the system. Some successful co-operation mechanisms do exist, such as the RAPEX system; however they are limited to certain activities or sectors; RAPEX covers consumer products only, and a more co-ordinated control environment is needed.
Therefore, the Commission proposes to establish an equivalent level of market surveillance throughout the EU using a common legal framework, which allows:
flexibility of organisation at national level, to take account of national conditions whilst establishing specific minimum requirements for operation. It also foresees the extension of the existing co-operation mechanisms (it builds upon the existing national structures), improves the traceability of products and clarifies the obligations for all economic operators, i.e. manufacturers, distributors, and importers, etc.
3. Improving the understanding of CE marking
The CE marking on a product indicates that all regulatory requirements have been fulfilled. Unfortunately, many consumers do not understand the real meaning of the marking and believe that it is an indication of origin or an indication that the product has been tested and approved by some authority. As a result, consumers do not pro-actively seek CE marking on products.
Therefore, the best way to solve consumers’ ignorance without creating disproportionate negative impacts for industry and authorities is through enhanced communication. A visible Community-wide information campaign will help to improve public understanding of CE marking.
In addition, the CE marking should be registered as a Community collective trade mark. This would then give national authorities more strength to take legal action against manufacturers who misuse the CE marking, again contributing to credibility of the marking.
4. How to improve consistency of the legal framework?
The current legal framework contains a number of inconsistencies and legal uncertainties which cause problems in the interpretation and implementation of the directives. Products are very often covered by more than one directive, which sometimes proves difficult because common elements, e.g. definitions, procedures for demonstrating conformity, etc are not always treated in the same way. This is as a result of different directives being implemented at different times over the past 20 years.
This has a negative effect on industry, as they find themselves are in the difficult and complex situation of having to comply not only with one piece of legislation, but with a variety of legal instruments.
These inconsistencies in the legislation can only be solved by changing the existing legal framework. A co-ordinated modification of the relevant articles of each existing directive and regulation would temporarily improve the situation, but to ensure a co-ordinated approach in the future it would be better to create a horizontal framework. This would contain all the common elements of product legislation, e.g. definitions, conformity assessment procedures, provisions on CE marking and on notified bodies, and could be seen as a toolkit of measures which could be picked up by the different sectors in the future. The actual adaptation of the individual sector directives should be carried out in a separate exercise, which would then allow these toolbox elements to be applied in sector-specific situations.
Overall, this proposal will facilitate further the free movement of goods by eliminating deficiencies, inconsistencies and unnecessary red tape from the existing legal framework. It will reinvigorate confidence in the internal market legislation from all stakeholders, consumers, industry and Member States. It will be a cornerstone for the future strategy on internal market policy.
Part II Market access for products: Making it easier to sell in another Member State
In theory, Member States can only refuse products coming from another Member State in exceptional cases. But the reality is often different: many companies still face technical barriers, because Member States require goods coming from other Member States to be adapted to their national technical rules on designation, form, size, weight, composition, presentation, labelling and packaging. This leads to substantial obstacles to the free movement of goods and requires extra administrative controls and tests. The principle of free movement of goods is one of the cornerstones of the EC Treaty. It requires Member States to accept products lawfully marketed in another Member State and which are not subject to Community harmonisation, such as several types of construction products, many foodstuffs (for example bread and pasta), furniture, bicycles, ladders and precious metals. Member States are entitled to request that products be adapted to their national rules, if this is necessary to protect, for example, human health or the environment.
The recent public consultation on the future of the Internal Market shows that in practice, many technical obstacles created by national rules still hamper trade within the EU, because:
there is widespread lack of awareness in enterprises and national authorities about the principle of the free movement of goods and there is legal uncertainty about the burden of proof in case of dispute (where a Member State refuses to allow a product to be placed on its market). it is difficult for businesses (in particular SMEs) to find out beforehand if they can sell their products lawfully in another Member State where the rules are different. In the proposal for a regulation adopted today by the Commission, these problems are tackled as follows:
1. The burden of proof is no longer placed on importing company
Member States will no longer be able to rely on their local rules to deny access to a product coming from another Member State. The proposal gives certain guarantees to businesses when they intend to sell their product in another Member State. The proposal places the burden of proof on the national authorities which refuse market access.
2. Product Contact Points in each Member State
The proposal aims to reduce the regulatory risk for enterprises in the Member State of destination and to enhance regular dialogue between competent authorities by establishing one or several "Product Contact Points" in each Member State. Member States can delegate this role not only to existing services within the public administration but also to chambers of commerce, professional organisations or private bodies, in order not to increase administrative costs for enterprises and competent authorities alike.
Their main task will consist of providing information on technical rules on products to enterprises and to competent authorities in other Member States, as well as providing the contact details of the latter. That will allow public authorities to identify their colleagues in other Member States so that they can easily obtain information from, and begin dialogue with, them.
It is important for the internal market for goods to ensure the accessibility of national technical rules, so that enterprises, in particular SMEs, can obtain reliable and precise information about the law in force in the Member State of destination.
Examples of problems with the market access in another Member State:
1: Mobile working tower (Scaffolding): the manufacturer was required to conduct additional product testing in order to be able to document that the products lives up to the legislation of the Member State of destination. This testing could have been done at any accredited testing institution but the manufacturer was nevertheless asked to do it at a specific testing institution. The manufacturer was obliged to pay the extra costs of testing. Another manufacturer who faced the similar requirement simply gave up.
2: Aluminium kettle: the Member State of destination restricted the sale of the product on grounds of health according to national rules regulating aluminium content in potable water. The enterprise was not aware of the existence of this rule but nevertheless sought approval to the Member State which demanded new tests on basis of a local technical rule. This was a time consuming process, aggravated by language barriers.
3: Bicycles: in this case, the Member State of destination required that the rear light and the headlight must be operated by a dynamo. According to the Member State of destination, this is necessary for safety considerations. Its argument was that a dynamo driven light is more reliable than a battery driven light. The Member State of destination also required that the bicycle should be equipped with two brakes. The manufacturer decided to adapt his products accordingly.
4: Testing of children's clothing: the Member State of destination requires the testing of the clothes’ chemical reactions when exposed to e.g. body sweat and saliva. According to the Member State of destination, this is necessary to prevent allergic and dermatological problems. The national distributor considered that there was no immediate positive benefit from the testing done exclusively for the market of the Member State of destination. He is therefore not selling children’s clothing in that Member State
5: Off-Road machinery: the national rules of Member States regarding functions of high importance for road safety of off-road machinery (such as braking, steering etc.) do not differ that much. But different values, criteria and required testing procedures oblige manufacturers to undergo different testing procedures and to adapt their products to obtain the road approval. The national regulatory systems ask for different signalling, warning and lighting equipment to increase visibility of off-road machinery. The purpose of these national rules is always and everywhere the same but national solutions differ from each other. In practice, manufacturers have to adapt their products to these national rules. If not, they hardly get access to the national market of other Member States.
Part III: Making it easier to buy a car in another Member State
Can I obtain insurance cover in my home country for a second hand car with a temporary number plate from another Member State? What do I need to do when transferring a car from one Member State to another? When do I have to pay the VAT for my new car? These practical questions discourage many citizens and enterprises from purchasing a car in another Member State since they fear facing needless paperwork and extra costs in their home country. Moreover, people who are moving to another Member State and who want to register their car in their new place of residence often face burdensome type-approval and registration procedures. EU legislation has made life easier for consumers in the recent years. Most new cars now have an EU-wide type-approval so that they can be registered without any further control in all Member States. Consumers can freely choose in which Member State they wish to purchase their new car and a harmonised registration certificate for new cars has been introduced.
1. The registration of motor vehicles
In the EU cars can be registered in any Member State, on condition that the model in question has obtained either an EC or a national type approval.
EC type approval
Manufacturers have to obtain for all series-built passenger cars approved since 1996, motorcycles approved since May 2003 and tractors approved since 2005 the EC type-approval. On its basis, the manufacturer issues an EC certificate of conformity. Member States may only register new EC-type-approved vehicles, if they are accompanied by an EC certificate of conformity.
Certain categories of motor vehicles are not EC type-approved, for example commercial vehicles (buses, coaches, vans and trucks) and trailers; vehicles built in small series; vehicles approved on an individual basis are still subject to national approvals.
2. a) First registration of motor vehicles (new cars):
For new EC type-approved motor vehicles purchased in another Member State, the motor vehicle can be registered in any Member State of registration with the EC certificate of conformity.
For non EC type-approved vehicles, the Member State may request presentation of the relevant national certificate.
Where to pay VAT?
Professional traders are obliged to issue an invoice:
The motor vehicle is "new" (max. six months): VAT will be due in the Member State to which the vehicle is moved, on condition, it can be proved that the car is transported to the customer at a destination outside the Member State of origin. No VAT will be due in the Member State of origin where the trader is established.
The motor vehicle is not “new”: when a private person goes to another Member State to buy the motor vehicle and transports it back himself then he buys at the VAT rate of tax at the point of sale and the result is taxation at “origin” . VAT will be due in the Member State where the trader is established.
When a private individual sells his motor vehicle, it can be:
“New” (max. six months): in that case VAT will be due in the Member State to which the vehicle is moved. The private seller who has sold the "new car" is entitled to be refunded of VAT included in the purchase price in the Member State of origin.
Not “new”: the transaction is outside the scope of VAT. No VAT will be due.
Proof of insurance coverage
The Commission considers that national authorities may also require, at the moment of registration, proof of insurance coverage.
2 b) Registration of motor vehicles previously registered in another Member State
The Member State of registration may, in principle, only request the submission of the following documents:
- A copy of the previous registration certificate;
- Proof of payment of VAT, if the vehicle is new for VAT purposes;
- A certificate of insurance;
- A roadworthiness certificate if roadworthiness testing is obligatory for all re-registrations of motor vehicles previously registered in the same or in another Member State, respectively.
3. Number plates: Transferring a motor vehicle to another Member State
If the motor vehicle does not yet have a final registration plate, there are two ways to drive it lawfully to the Member State of destination
1. Driving the car with professional number plates
Professional registration schemes exist in most Member States in order to allow retailers (manufacturers, assemblers, distributors and dealers) to drive motor vehicles for a very short period. They can move freely in the internal market.
2. The car carries a temporary registration plate
Temporary registration schemes allow a car to be driven for a short period before it obtains final registration or before it leaves the territory. Temporary registration usually takes place in the Member State of origin. However, the Commission takes the view that the Member State of origin should also accept the use of temporary registration plates issued by the Member State of destination.
Registration of the car can only be refused for reasons relating to road safety (such as the driving capacities of the driver, his compliance with the local rules of the road or the roadworthiness of the motor vehicle), in case of reasonable suspicion of vehicle theft or when there are reasonable doubts about the validity of the certificate.
In addition, motorists are recommended to carry the “green card”. However, a new rule that has to be transposed by Member States by 11 June 2007 at the latest, specifies that where a vehicle is dispatched from one Member State to another, the Member State where the risk is situated shall be considered the Member State of destination, immediately upon acceptance of delivery by the purchaser for a period of thirty days, even though the vehicle has not formally been registered in the Member State of destination. This will enable the purchaser of the vehicle to obtain insurance cover in his Member State of residence even though the vehicle still bears a foreign registration plate. In practical terms, this means that insurance should be taken out in the country of destination.
Apart from the formal national remedies available to the person applying for registration, citizens and enterprises may seek a solution for vehicle approval or car registration problems through the free SOLVIT network.
It is also possible to turn directly to the European Commission and make a complaint against a Member State. The Commission - if it considers that a Member State has failed to fulfil its obligation under the EC Treaty - can initiate infringement proceedings against the Member State under Article 226 EC.
5. Citizen’s Guide on Car Registration
The Commission will publish a practical Citizens’s Guide on car registration in the spring of 2007. This guide will be specifically addressed to people who buy a car in another Member State, and to people who move to another Member State and need to register their car there. More information http://ec.europa.eu/enterprise/regulation/car_registration/index.en.htm
 Member States can bar products on grounds of public safety, health concerns or environmental considerations (“overriding requirements of general public importance”, Article 30 of the EC Treaty)