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EU market surveillance and robust enforcement

October 21, 2019

The tougher new EU market surveillance and product compliance regulation will take effect on 16 July 2021.

The Market Surveillance Regulation (MSR) is one of the EU’s key measures to provide a high level of protection of public interests. The robust enforcement of these interests will create the conditions in which fair competition in the Union market for goods can thrive. The new MSR rules will ensure that enforcement is possible regardless of whether the products are placed on the market via offline or online means. The MSR rules will apply irrespective of whether the products are manufactured in the Union or not.

At the moment, EU regulations are enforced at a national level and vary from member state to member state. MSR is a set of uniform rules providing more effective enforcement tools to address online sales and improved cooperation between EU countries, between market surveillance and customs authorities, and through an EU product compliance network for products sold throughout the EU.

Its objective is to improve the working of the EU internal market and reduce variations in competition and promote product safety. MSR tackles the market challenges of global e-commerce and online trading. The EU wide market surveillance measures will include closer cooperation with third countries and international organisations and could consist of checks on products before being exported from a non-EU country.

All products sold in the EU will require an EU based responsible economic player (e.g. an authorised representative). Fulfilment service providers, but also manufacturers, their authorised representatives or importers are collectively referred to as responsible economic players. If no manufacturer, authorised representative or importer exists within the EU, then the marketplace operators or fulfilment service providers are responsible.

“Placing on the market” has been better defined. If a product is available online and an offer is made to an EU domiciled end-user, it will be deemed to have been placed on the market and subject to MSR.

A novel feature is that the role of marketplaces and fulfilment service providers will also be taken into account.

Cross-border powers and the exchange of information between market surveillance authorities begins on the 16 July 2021. Companies should ensure they are fully compliant before the regulations take effect. In the run-up to the introduction of the new rules, distributors, fulfilment service providers and marketplaces are expected to carry out stricter controls to ensure they are compliant.

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