Report: Conflict between product safety and fair competition
By Per Yann Le Floc’h | Thursday 12 July 2012
European industry is concerned about unfair competition from non-European products that to not meet safety criteria in force in the EU. In his report entitled ‘Putting an end to unfair competition’, French Industry Ambassador Yvon Jacob denounces the contradictions of EU policies, namely ever stricter safety criteria for European products and lack of controls at borders for foreign products. At a 10 July conference, organised by Amalia Sartori (EPP, Italy), enterprises urged the European Commission to take the bull by the horns.
The market accommodates foreign products, which have a price advantage due to the dumping organised by certain non-EU countries and are potentially dangerous to citizens due to the absence of controls, said Jacob.
The industry is not demanding protectionist measures. It wants to raise member states’ awareness of the importance of monitoring, since the average level of duties applied to industrial imports in the Union is one of the world’s lowest at 4%. According to the report, this situation results primarily from two factors. First is the development of protectionist measures by non-European competitors. China restricts access to its domestic market but also subsidises exports with public funds. Second is the ever-growing number of European safety rules. The combination of increasing safety criteria and a lack of controls at borders is extremely damaging to the competitiveness of European products.
François Clément-Grandcourt, deputy managing director of BIC, mentioned the example of lighters. In accordance with Directive 2001/95/EC on general product safety, the Commission adopted, on 11 May 2006, Decision 2006/502/EC that toughens safety standards for lighters, obliging the industry to invest and thus impacting production costs. Meanwhile, in Rotterdam, Europe’s largest port, only 2% of products are put through checks.
The report suggests different solutions. It recommends the creation of a European single market surveillance office or the adoption of a reciprocity legal instrument (excluding from public procurement countries that do not conform to European standards). Jacqueline Minor, director at DG Health and Consumer Policy, proposed to transfer EU competences for border checks but also to enter into talks with China. She is convinced that this country wants to improve the image of its ‘Made in China’ label by complying with European safety rules.
The industry is not demanding protectionist measures. It wants to raise member states’ awareness of the importance of monitoring