European Councial agrees position about mutual recognition of goods to reinforce the single market
The European Council today (May, 28) agreed on a general approach on a draft regulation aimed at improving the mutual recognition of goods marketed in another member state. The objective of the regulation is to improve the application of the principle of mutual recognition in the internal market, and thus to ensure that goods lawfully marketed in one member state can be sold in any other member state, as long as they are safe and respect the public interest.
We still have overcome a number of artificial barriers in several areas of the internal market. Many of them steaming from the application of different rules in non-harmonised sectors and poor implementation of mutual recognition principles. Today’s agreement will contribute to enlarge the freedom of movement of goods in the internal market, and therefore facilitate market access to our companies, which will in the end benefit all European consumers.
Mutual recognition for non-harmonised goods
The EU harmonisation legislation sets out common requirements on how products have to be manufactured. This is for example the case of toys, cosmetic products or pyrotechnical articles. However, there is a wide range of consumer products such as textile, footwear, childcare articles, jewellery, tableware or furniture, that are not subject to the EU harmonisation legislation or that are only partly covered by it.
The new regulation will apply to these goods. Where there are no EU common rules or when goods are only partially covered by those rules, member states remain free to adopt their national technical rules laying down requirements to be met by those goods. Those requirements may refer for example to designation, form, size, weight, composition, labelling, packaging, etc.
Improving the current framework
As compared to the current legislative framework, a number of improvements are proposed to the application of the principle of mutual recognition, including:
– The clarification of the scope of mutual recognition. This will increase legal certainty for businesses and national authorities as to when the principle of mutual recognition can be applied;
the introduction of a self-declaration to facilitate demonstrating that goods have already been lawfully marketed in a member state. This is meant to enable economic operators to benefit from the use of such a declaration within the framework of assessment of goods in question.
– The establishment of a problem-solving procedure to provide practical solutions to citizens and businesses in terms of compatibility of an administrative decision denying or restricting market access with the principle of mutual recognition. The use of this non-judicial mechanism will make the application of the principle by businesses and national authorities easier.
– The setting up of an efficient administrative cooperation to enhance the exchange of information and trust among national authorities, which will facilitate the application of the principle of mutual recognition.
The general approach enables the Council to start negotiations with the European Parliament (EP) once the EP has agreed its own position. A vote in the EP’s internal market committee is scheduled after the summer break.
The Commission presented the original proposal on 19 December 2017 as a part of the “Goods package”, which contains an additional proposal for a regulation laying down rules and procedures for compliance with and enforcement of Union harmonisation legislation on products.
The current framework is based on regulation 764/2008, which was adopted in July 2008 in order to facilitate the application of the mutual recognition principle. An evaluation carried out between 2014 and 2016 showed that the principle does not function as it should. In its conclusions on single market policy of February 2015, the Council called on the Commission to bring forward proposals with a view to improving the mutual recognition.
The principle of mutual recognition is embedded in articles 34 and 36 of the EU treaty.